Xinhua file photos of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Xinhua file photos of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Image Source: IANS News

Geneva, Jan 22 : Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken described their 90-minute meeting in Geneva as "useful" but "no breakthroughs".

Lavrov on Friday said their discussion was "honest," and Blinken said it was "frank and substantive." "This was not negotiation, but a candid exchange of concerns and ideas," the US Secretary of State added at a press conference on Friday.

The Russian Foreign Minister added that the main purpose of Friday's talks was to discuss the drafts of two fundamental documents submitted by Russia in December 2021 on legally binding security guarantees, Xinhua news agency reported.

"In the end, we concluded with an agreement that written responses to all our proposals will be submitted to us next week," Lavrov said, adding that Russia will decide its next steps upon receipt of the responses.

"What we expect is concrete answers to our concrete proposals and in compliance with the obligations that were adopted at the highest level within the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe)," he said.

He added that in Moscow's opinion it is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) that is seeking to make Ukraine part of its zone of influence, and that Russia is not threatening the Ukrainian people or seeking to dominate its neighbour.

"What NATO is now doing toward Ukraine clearly shows that NATO sees Ukraine as part of its sphere of influence," Lavrov said.

Lavrov reiterated that Moscow has no plans to attack its neighbour Ukraine.

"Russia has never, at any time or at any place, ever threatened the Ukrainian people through its official representatives," he added.

At a separate press conference, the US Secretary of State said that the meeting with his Russian counterpart was part of an ongoing effort to de-escalate tensions.

"We didn't expect any major breakthroughs to happen today. I believe we are now on a clear path in terms of understanding each other's concerns, each other's positions," he added.

"Our objective is to determine whether Russia is prepared to take a diplomatic path and other necessary steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, and ultimately to resolve our differences through diplomacy and through dialogue," he said.

Blinken stressed that the US and its European allies and partners stand firmly with Ukraine in support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Peace or conflict, he said, the US and its allies and partners in Europe "stand ready to meet Russia on either path". He confirmed that both sides consider it important for the diplomatic process to continue.

NATO, a military bloc led by the US, has opened its doors to former Warsaw Pact states and ex-Soviet republics since late 1990s, and is still seeking eastward enlargement towards Russia's neighbours, including Ukraine.

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