After Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, State Department officials said the US and Russia have agreed to continue talks on Ukraine and other issues.
In a readout of the call, the State Department said Blinken spoke with Lavrov to follow up on the US’s written responses to Russia’s security proposals. Lavrov sent a letter to the US and its allies that contained follow-up questions, and he clarified to Blinken that the letter was not a formal response.
A State Department official said the formal Russian response will first go to Russian President Vladimir Putin to be approved and then will be sent to Washington. Blinken and Lavrov agreed that they would speak again once that happens.
Putin addressed the dialogue with the US on Tuesday and reiterated the Russian position that Washington is ignoring Moscow’s main security demands, which includes a guarantee that Ukraine won’t join NATO.
“Imagine that Ukraine becomes a NATO member and launches those military operations,” Putin said. “Should we fight NATO then? Has anyone thought about it?” He also accused the US of trying to “draw us into a military conflict and force its allies in Europe to impose the tough sanctions the US is talking about now.”
Despite his frustration, Putin still said Russia is interested in continuing talks to ease tensions in the region. “We need to find a way to ensure interests and security of all parties, including Ukraine, European nations, and Russia,” he said.
Both sides have said there is room to work on other issues, including arms control and the deployment of missiles in Europe. Russia has proposed a ban on the deployment of short and medium-range missiles previously prohibited by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the US withdrew from in 2019.