'It Does Not Make Sense to Go Forward': Blinken Calls Off Thursday Meeting With Lavrov
21:53 GMT 22.02.2022 (Updated: 04:42 GMT 23.02.2022)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called off a Thursday meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two were expected to try and find diplomatic middle ground over the Ukraine crisis.
At a Tuesday news conference, Blinken told reporters: "Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy it does not make sense to go forward that meeting at this time."
.@SecBlinken cancels meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: "Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy it does not make sense to go forward that meeting at this time." pic.twitter.com/GmEFVZTJQ3— CSPAN (@cspan) February 22, 2022
Blinken when asked about diplomacy, said: “To the extent that we can do anything to avert a worst case scenario...we will always pursue that.” He added, “But Moscow needs to demonstrate that it’s serious.”
The state secretary further stated that diplomacy with Russia is still in the cards, underscoring that he remains "very much prepared to engage."
The conference also include the participation of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who remarked that Russia's economy must be slammed with sanctions. "Hit it hard," he told reporters.
Kuleba suggested a lend-lease program with the United States, similar to the ones executed during World War II, could be utilized. The lend-lease Act allowed the United States government to lend or lease war supplies, "deemed vital to the defense of the United States.”
"One of the proposals that we put forward today is designing a program similar to the Lend-Lease [program] implemented during the World War 2 to support the war efforts of the allies in Europe." He added, "This program will help to ensure sustainability and will improve efficiency in strengthening the capacity of Ukraine to defend itself."
When asked about Russian troops moving into the newly recognized states in the Donbass, he said, "There's no such thing as a minor or middle invasion -- an invasion is an invasion." Kuleba also said that there are no plans to evacuate the eastern Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Kharkiv.
During Secretary Blinken's opening remarks, the state secretary claimed that the current situation is a "Russian-manufactured crisis." However, it was the US in November that began to push the notion that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent - without presenting any solid evidence, solely pointing to a "build-up" of Russian troops in neighboring countries such as Belarus. It's worth pointing out that the two allies were engaged in joint military exercises.
21 February 2022, 22:52 GMT
The United States has consistently dismissed Russia's security concerns of NATO's expansion eastward. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was singularly established in 1949 to curtail the Soviet Union and Russia.
On Monday, Russia became the first United Nations member nation to recognize the sovereignty of the two breakaway states, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic, in eastern Ukraine.
The region has been in a state of war since 2014 and the Ukrainian military has fought to stamp out the predominantly Russian-speaking region from claiming autonomy over the past eight years. Following Russia's decision to recognize the two states' sovereignty military personnel was sent in to help keep the peace and maintain security.
The act has been described by the United States, Ukraine, and NATO as an "invasion." The two states in the Donbass have been largely controlled and managed by the breakaway states over the past eight years.