The United States has delivered a written response to Russia addressing Moscow’s security demands, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday, as Washington continues to pursue diplomacy aimed at diverting a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But it remains unclear how the document will deescalate the tense security situation along the Russia-Ukraine border, as Washington has already ruled out Moscow’s major requests: that NATO pull back its presence in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, and that Ukraine and Georgia be permanently barred from joining the military alliance.
“Without going into the specifics of the document, I can tell you that it reiterates what we’ve said publicly for many weeks and, in a sense, for many years,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference. “That we will uphold the principle of NATO’s ‘open door,’ and that’s … a commitment that we’re bound to.”
The written response, which U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan delivered to Moscow, was “fully coordinated” with Ukraine and European allies, Blinken said, and it “sets out a serious, diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it.”
The written response has been shared with Congress, and Blinken is scheduled to brief congressional leaders on the document later Wednesday. It will not be released publicly, however, “because we think diplomacy has the best chance to succeed if we provide space for confidential talks,” Blinken said.
NATO also plans to deliver its own document to Russia that “fully reinforces” the United States’ response and outlines “ideas and concerns about collective security in Europe,” Blinken added.
Earlier Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatened further aggression if the United States’ written response did not satisfy Russia. “We won’t allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions,” he said, adding that if “the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures.”
Blinken’s remarks on Wednesday came after his meeting in Geneva last Friday with Lavrov, during which Blinken pledged to present Russia with a written record of Washington’s concerns about Moscow’s behavior and proposals aimed at resolving the security crisis sometime this week.
Blinken said he expects to speak with Lavrov again “in the coming days after Moscow has had a chance to read” the United States’ written response “and is ready to discuss next steps.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday that the United States did “expect to be in a position to send a written response this week” to Russia, but that U.S. officials were first “sharing those ideas” with European allies and “taking their feedback.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested on Tuesday that it was unlikely the written response would be made public, as “paper that is part of negotiations or discussions … is typically not” shared outside of government channels.
As for President Joe Biden’s involvement in the drafting of the written response, Psaki said Biden “certainly engages [with], is briefed [on], and approves every component of our response and our efforts in this process.”