Blinken's visit will not ease tension, but destroy basis of Ukraine-Russia dialogue
Published: Mar 03, 2022 11:20 PM
An Ukrainian frontier guard stands guard at the check point on the border with Russia, some 40 km from the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, on February 16, 2022.Photo:VCG

An Ukrainian frontier guard stands guard at the check point on the border with Russia, some 40 km from the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, on February 16, 2022. Photo:VCG

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Belgium, Poland, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia from March 3 to 8, the US Department of State announced on Wednesday, which experts said may stir up the situation and destroy the basis of dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.

The US Department of State said that the "trip continues extensive consultations and coordination with [the US'] NATO Allies and European partners about the Russian Federation's war against Ukraine."

However, it is believed that Blinken's trip this time is to show the US' verbal support for its allies and Ukraine after US President Joe Biden clearly stated that the US will not send its military forces to Ukraine. 

"Although the US has made a lot of comments, saying that it will support Ukraine, the US did not send any military forces to Ukraine, which made its support look weak," Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"As a lot of public comments have pointed out, it was NATO's eastward expansion and the US that caused the Ukraine crisis. Another goal of Blinken's visit is to make a clarification to European countries that the Russia-Ukraine crisis is all Russia's fault," Wang noted.

According to the announcement, Blinken will begin his trip in Brussels, Belgium where he will participate in a NATO foreign ministerial meeting with EU counterparts, participate in a G7 ministerial meeting, and hold additional meetings with partners to discuss the global response to the crisis, including "Allies' and partners' continued coordination on imposing massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia."

Experts said that this will only destroy the basis of dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, and force Russia to accelerate its operation in Ukraine. "Russia has never wanted to occupy Ukraine, and it has been warning Ukraine civilians to leave. But if the situation intensifies, it may go to a worse scenario - a large-scale clash," Wang noted.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is ready for dialogue on the basis of equality, and taking into account each other's interests on Thursday before the second round of talks with the Ukraine delegation. He added that Russia's requests are minimal, and that President Vladimir Putin has been consistent with his position.

The second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will be held on Thursday in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha area in Brest, a city in Belarus near the Polish border, according to Vladimir Medinsky, head of the Russian delegation.

"Russia has been quite cautious actually, it just destroyed military facilities, and its purpose is to demilitarize the extreme forces in Ukraine and bring Ukraine back to a 'neutral' position," Wang added. 

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution demanding the Russian Federation immediately "end its invasion of Ukraine and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from that neighboring country," which analysts believed would do little to ease the tension. 

Five countries - Belarus, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Russia and Syria - voted against it, while 35 abstained, including China.

Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, explained China's position after the vote that China's basic position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and unequivocal and China believes that international disputes should be resolved peacefully in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Zhang stressed that any action by the UN and the relevant parties should give priority to regional peace and stability and the universal security of all parties, and should play a positive role for de-escalation and diplomatic solutions. 

"Regrettably, the draft resolution submitted to this emergency special session for a vote has not undergone full consultations within the whole membership. Nor does it take full consideration to the history and complexity of the current crisis. It does not highlight the importance of the principle of indivisible security, or the urgency of promoting political settlement and stepping up diplomatic efforts. These are not in line with China's consistent positions. Therefore, we had no choice but to abstain in the voting." Zhang noted.