Blinken, Borrell vow to present 'united transatlantic front' after Russia talks

The Nation  |  Jan 16, 2022

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed on Saturday to coordinate closely with regard to what the EU's external action service called Russian attempts to redefine security arrangements in Europe.

The officials briefed each other on their latest diplomatic engagement regarding Russia, Borrell's office said in a statement.

They "rejected Russian initiative to rebuild spheres of influence in Europe and underlined their determination to continue intense consultations on this and other issues between the US and EU – presenting a strong, clear and united transatlantic front".

The two reaffirmed their support for Ukraine and again demanded that Russia de-escalate tensions. They reviewed preparations of so-called deterrent measures and threatened "massive consequences" if Russia behaved aggressively toward Ukraine.

Russia warns about risk of escalation amid NATO's creeping expansion

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek in an interview published on Saturday that NATO's eastward expansion was driving up tensions. He said last week's talks that Russia held with the US and NATO were meant to "preserve peace and stability" in Europe by putting legally binding guarantees down on paper.

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"As [NATO] approaches our border proper, the flight time of NATO air and missile weapons to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities in the European part of the country is reduced. How would the US government react if Washington, New York or Los Angeles were 'under the bomb-sight'", he said.

Russia sees NATO's creeping expansion, which has come in five waves since the fall of the Soviet Union, as a national security threat, the diplomat said. He warned about the risk of escalation and direct military confrontation in the post-Soviet expanse and beyond.

"Everything has its limits. We are, in fact, on the edge of the precipice", the ambassador told the magazine, adding that the draft proposals were meant to prevent the situation from spinning out of control.

Senior US and Russian diplomats held a strategic stability dialogue in Geneva on Monday, followed by Russia-NATO talks in Brussels on Wednesday and a meeting of Russian negotiators and representatives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.

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Antonov said Ukraine was only briefly mentioned during the Russia-NATO consultations.

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