Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a direct phone conversation Tuesday, a day after U.S. and Russian diplomats traded broadsides at a charged U.N. Security Council meeting over who was responsible for the gathering crisis in Ukraine.
The State Department offered a short readout of Tuesday’s conversation, saying Mr. Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. and NATO support of Ukraine and discussed written responses the Biden administration has presented to the Kremlin over Russia’s demands that Ukraine be blocked permanently from NATO membership and that the U.S. and its allies pull back their security forces broadly from Eastern Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to respond publicly to U.S. and NATO documents that rejected his demands but offered to discuss revamped security arrangements in the region more broadly.
Mr. Blinken “emphasized the U.S. willingness, bilaterally and together with allies and partners, to continue a substantive exchange with Russia on mutual security concerns, which we intend to do in full coordination with our partners and allies,” department spokesman Ned Price said in the five-sentence statement, while once again warning Mr. Lavrov that military action against Kyiv “would be met with swift and severe consequences.”
Russia has not provided its version of the latest call, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin was still formulating his response to the U.S. and NATO written proposals. He said U.S. media reports that a Russian response had already been delivered were erroneous.
U.S. and Russian ambassadors exchanged sharp words at Monday’s showdown U.N. Security Council session, which was held over Moscow’s objections. Russia‘s ambassador accused Washington of escalating the fight and seeming to be rooting for war, while the United States’ U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Kremlin’s build-up of more than 100,000 troops on three sides of the border with Ukraine was the main trigger for the crisis.