US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday as tension between the two sides remains high over Ukraine.
Blinken arrived in Geneva late on Thursday after meeting with officials from the UK, France and Germany to build a united front against the threat of Russian aggression to Ukraine. Blinken held meetings with officials of the three European powers in Berlin. There, he alleged Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion of Ukraine imminently.
Previous attempts in recent days to diffuse tension have not worked. “Blinken’s deputy, Wendy Sherman, and Lavrov’s deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, also met in Geneva last week, where both sides set out seemingly irreconcilable positions,” Reuters reported.
Russia's permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told CNBC that he hoped Blinken would be conciliatory to Russian demands. “I would hope that Secretary Blinken comes to Geneva not empty-handed, but with a reply, which was promised to the Russian proposals on security guarantees, the ones that were presented to the United States and to NATO countries,” he told CNBC.
Russia had demanded that the eastward expansion of NATO be prevented and former Soviet republics not be allowed to join the alliance, It also wants the US to desist from building bases in former Soviet republics or enhancing military cooperation with them.
The US and NATO have rejected the demands to prevent admission of Ukraine to the alliance and roll back deployments in eastern Europe.