Blinken meets Lavrov after NATO talks in RigaReading Time: 2 minutes
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the importance of strengthening Transatlantic unity at the NATO Foreign Ministerial in Riga, Latvia on Wednesday. NATO billed the summit as “30 Allies (meeting) to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine, Belarus, lessons learned from NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan and the future of the Alliance for the next decade and beyond.”
After the meeting Blinken tweeted that he and the foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK had “affirmed our shared concern over Russia’s threatening moves towards Ukraine”. He said the US was ready to respond resolutely, including with hard-hitting sanctions.
Stoltenberg said the purpose of the ministerium was “to update the strategic concept of NATO. I find it highly symbolic that we launched the process here in Riga in the north-east flank of the lands,” he added.
On Russia, Stoltenberg said:“the security environment has deteriorated significantly since the last strategic concept was written. As we speak, Russia is concentrating its armed forces on the borders with Ukraine. Just two months ago in its strategic exercise Zapa 2021, Russia demonstrated full military command and control of rebellions. Russia has recently been avoiding dialogue with NATO. Those are just the most recent reminders of why Russia continues to pose a challenge,” Stoltenberg added.
On Thursday morning Blinken talked with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for around half an hour on the fringes of a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Stockholm, Sweden. He warned Lavrov of “serious consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine and urged him to pursue diplomatic channels. Blinken added that Moscow and Kyiv should keep to the 2014 Minsk peace process, which was designed to end the war between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near their long shared border, while Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up, Reuters reported on Thursday. The probability of a new conflict in eastern Ukraine remains high, according to the Kremlin, the news agency added.