Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov begin their meeting in a hotel on Lake Geneva. In talks with his Russian counterpart, the US Secretary of State wants to urge Moscow to contribute to the mutual security of Russia and the West again through diplomatic channels. “I will also make it clear that Russian aggression against Ukraine would wipe out that opportunity,” he said in a speech in Berlin on Thursday, where he also met his German colleague Annalena Baerbock.
Before their crisis talks in Geneva, however, both foreign ministers dampened hopes of an early relaxation. He does not expect a breakthrough, said the Russian department head Sergey Lavrov on Friday in the Swiss city. His counterpart Antony Blinken also said on arrival that he did not expect the differences to be resolved. The USA remained committed to diplomacy and dialogue. Further aggression by Russia against Ukraine must be prevented.
Before the Geneva talks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Lavrov wanted to go through Moscow’s demands for security guarantees from NATO and the United States in detail.
While the United States and its western allies are demanding a withdrawal of the 100,000 Russian soldiers who have gathered on the Ukrainian border, Moscow is demanding security guarantees and an end to the eastward expansion of the western military alliance NATO. Efforts to ease the situation have been in full swing since last week, but have so far produced no tangible results (21.01.2022)
Russia announces naval maneuvers
Amid the dispute with the West over a troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, the Russian government has announced numerous naval maneuvers. All Russian fleets from the Pacific to the Atlantic are involved in the missions, the Ministry of Defense said. It would involve 140 warships and support units, 60 aircraft and about 10,000 soldiers. The maneuvers are planned for January and February. Iran’s Irna agency, meanwhile, quoted a member of the Iranian Armed Forces’ press staff as saying China, Russia and Iran would hold joint naval exercises on Friday. (21.01.2022)
Great Britain warns Russia and China against strong Western cohesion
Britain warns Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping that the West will stand together to fight for democracy against dictatorships. “It’s time for the free world to take a stand,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in her speech at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia. According to the minister, the West must react together to global threats, deepen relations with the democracies in the Indo-Pacific region and stand up to global aggressors. Truss said President Putin should desist from Ukraine before he makes a major strategic mistake. (21.01.2022)
Ukraine demands exclusion of Russia from Swift payment system
The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, has called for Russia to be excluded from the Swift payment system. “The Ukrainians are therefore calling on the Ampel government to put aside all concerns and decouple Russia from Swift,” Melnyk told the Funke media group. This harsh punitive measure must “remain in the toolbox of hellish sanctions as an efficient deterrent against Putin”.
If banks can no longer use the international banking communication network Swift, this can have far-reaching consequences for their business. Because the institutes are then virtually excluded from international money flows. Transferring money from abroad to a country then becomes more difficult, and vice versa. A possible exclusion of Russia from Swift is being discussed intensively as a sanction against the country in the tense Ukraine conflict. (21.01.2022)
Blinken calls Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘real threat’
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken has warned against a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It’s a real risk and it’s a high risk,” said Blinken on Thursday in the ZDF “Heute-Journal”. Russian soldiers have recently been sent to Belarus.
Regarding the statements made by US President Joe Biden, who said on Wednesday that a minor aggression by Russia would trigger a milder reaction from the West than a large-scale invasion, Blinken said: If even one Russian soldier crosses the border into Ukraine, then it will it is a “very clear attack” that entails a corresponding response. Biden’s statements, on the other hand, referred to scenarios that were different from an invasion, such as attempts to bring about a coup d’etat in Ukraine.
When asked whether he would give security guarantees at his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, Blinken said: “We have already shown a concession. Not just in the past few weeks, but over many years.” NATO has repeatedly extended a hand to Russia, unfortunately it has been rejected. Regarding possible German arms deliveries to Ukraine, Blinken said that each country makes its own decisions. But of course you have to make sure that Ukraine can defend itself. (20.01.2022)
Baerbock warns Russia of “serious consequences”
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has clearly warned Russia against further aggression in the Ukraine conflict and has shown her willingness to take tough measures. After a conversation with her US counterpart Tony Blinken, Baerbock said the way out of the crisis was a political one that only led through dialogue. Unfortunately, the Russian behavior “speaks a different language”, for example through the deployment of troops to Belarus and military maneuvers in the border area with Ukraine. “We urge Russia to take steps to de-escalate,” Baerbock said. Any further aggressiveness would have “serious consequences”.
The Federal Foreign Minister emphasized: “The issue is nothing less than maintaining the European peace order. It is essential for us.” You have no choice but to stand up for them. This also applies expressly if the measures “have economic consequences for us”. Baerbock also announced an upcoming joint trip to Ukraine with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. (20.01.2022)
Biden triggers irritation with statements about the western reaction
US President Joe Biden has caused irritation with his comments on the reaction to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US Democrat appeared to imply at a press conference on Wednesday that threatened NATO sanctions could depend on the extent of a potential Russian invasion: “It’s one thing if it’s a minor intrusion,” Biden said. “But if they actually do what they are able to do with the forces gathered at the border, then it will be a disaster for Russia.” When asked, Biden said he considered cyber attacks on Ukraine or attempts by Russian agents to create a pro-Russian mood in Ukraine as “minor intrusion”.
The US broadcaster CNN quoted an unnamed Ukrainian official said he was “shocked that US President Biden distinguished between incursion and invasion”. The US opposition reacted indignantly to Biden’s press conference. The Republican Senator Lindsey Graham commented, he was “stunned” by Biden’s statement. The Conservative Senator Tom Cotton explained on Twitter, Biden gives Putin the “green light” for an invasion.
Shortly after Biden’s appearance, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki sought clarification: “President Biden has made it clear to the Russian President: If Russian forces move across the Ukrainian border, that is a renewed invasion, and the United States and our allies to respond swiftly, forcefully, and as one.” However, the US President knows that Russia has “an extensive range of instruments for aggression” below the threshold of military action – for example cyber attacks and paramilitary tactics. Biden has reiterated that even such aggression by the Russians “will be answered with a resolute, mutual and joint response”.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, warns of an escalation of the conflict after Biden’s threats. The statements do not contribute to relaxation and could lead to a destabilization of the situation, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. “They could give false hope to the hotheads of some representatives of the Ukrainian leadership that they will decide to start a civil war again and solve the problem in the south-east (Donbass) by force.” (20.01.2022)
US allows arms shipments to Ukraine
The US allows the Baltic States to ship US-made weapons to Ukraine. The US State Department confirmed on Thursday that it had granted approval to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.
The ministry did not provide details on the type of weapons. A person familiar with the process told Reuters news agency that Estonia was allowed to do so Javelin-Anti-tank weapons and Lithuania Stinger-Supply anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. Under export control regulations, states must obtain authorization from the US Department of State before transferring weapons received from the US to third countries. (20.01.2022)