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Lavrov and Blinken Agree To Meet in Geneva on Friday

Jan. 18, 2022 (EIRNS)—A senior State Department official told reporters in a background briefing midday today, that Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet in person in Geneva this Friday, Jan. 21, after Blinken’s discussions in Kiev on Jan. 19, and Berlin on Jan. 20. The two had spoken by telephone earlier this morning, and “it was in the context of that conversation that the two decided it would be useful for them to meet in person,” the official stated.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to Rossiya-1 TV Channel later in the day that “active work is underway on such a meeting between the heads of the Russian and U.S. diplomatic agencies.”

Russian officials have been saying that they hoped to receive a written response this week to the draft treaty and agreement on security guarantees which Russia had discussed with U.S. and NATO officials last week. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had reiterated yesterday that “we hope that, as our American counterparts have already mentioned, they will be able to formulate something in writing this week.” Lavrov likewise told reporters yesterday that Russia “firmly” counted on receiving the “concrete responses promised to us.... There is reason to believe that some contacts on this track will take place in the next few days.”

Asked if Blinken would deliver a written response to Lavrov in Geneva, the senior State Department official danced around, saying neither yea, nay, nor anything of relevance.

The official did say the implementation of the Minsk accords is on Blinken’s agenda for his Kiev talks, and that Blinken is “150% committed to seeing if there is a diplomatic off-ramp” for the crisis—but the official said this only after opening the briefing by aggressively charging that the joint Russian-Belarus military maneuvers announced over the weekend are “neither an exercise nor normal troop movement,” but a move to create “a false pretext for a crisis” so that Russia could carry out its alleged plans to invade Ukraine. Which invasion, he or she assured, “could happen anytime between mid-January and mid-February.” The official claimed that “this movement of forces into Belarus clearly gives the Russians another approach, should they decide to take further military action against Ukraine.... Russia could be laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion—whether it’s through sabotage activities, information operations, or troop movements.”

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