Lavrov, Blinken Reportedly Had 'Testy Exchange Over Ukraine' at OSCE Gathering
13:24 GMT 05.12.2021 (Updated: 13:26 GMT 06.08.2022)
Over the past few weeks, Washington has repeatedly voiced concern about Moscow allegedly laying the groundwork for a potential invasion of Ukraine with a buildup of Russian forces on the nation's border with its immediate neighbour. The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the allegations.
There was "a testy exchange over Ukraine" between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at an Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe dinner in Stockholm earlier this week, Bloomberg
The news outlet cited unnamed sources as saying that the pair's showdown took place during the 1 December gathering attended by "dozens of their colleagues".
The sources claimed that "the verbal tension erupted" following a discussion between the US and its European allies about how "to counter the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine" amid Moscow's alleged "troop buildup on the neighbouring country's border".
The discussion went further when Lavrov "took the floor […] to revisit Russia's view" on the 2014 coup in Ukraine, and was followed by the Russian foreign minister blaming NATO and the EU for "suppressing dissent and threatening" Moscow.
Blinken reportedly responded by arguing that during the events of 2014, forces allegedly loyal to then-[Ukrainian] President Viktor Yanukovich
"fired on peaceful protesters in Kiev". Separately, the US secretary of state told Lavrov that NATO is "a defence alliance".
Between 18-22 February 2014, pro-EU protesters, riot police, and Yanukovich's supporters were involved in fierce armed clashes in the centre of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The clashes resulted in the deaths of 100 protesters and 13 police officers, as well as the ouster of democratically-elected President Yanukovich.
As for the Bloomberg report, it comes as the Russian Embassy in Washington responded to media speculations about Moscow's alleged plans for an invasion of Ukraine by stressing that Russia has the right to move the nation's troops within its own territory.
"Russia is not a threat to any country. The deployment of Russian troops on the nation's territory is our sovereign right and no one's business. It is NATO and its member states that are recklessly moving their military forces and infrastructure to Russia's borders", the embassy wrote on its Facebook page.
Russia has repeatedly rejected any assertion that it is planning to invade Ukraine, with President Vladimir Putin previously calling reports about the "buildup of Russian forces near its border with Ukraine" "alarmist". More recently, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov underscored that the allegations are "hysteria being whipped up artificially".
4 December 2021, 03:32 GMT
Moscow has more than once condemned Kiev for doing practically nothing in terms of fulfilling the peace accords signed in Minsk in 2014
and 2015 with the aim of ending the war in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region and restoring peace in the country.
The Kremlin has on numerous occasions also urged the West to pressure the new authorities in Kiev, who came to power as a result of a coup in 2014, to fulfill their commitments under the Minsk agreements, but to no avail.