Blinken Meets With NATO Allies To Discuss Russia’s Military Along Ukrainian Border

Last Monday, January 3rd, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Bucharest Nine group of NATO allies to discuss the number of Russian military troops stationed along the Ukrainian border. In addition, the group discussed several strategies to create a united front against the military presence, one of which was the pursuit of de-escalation. The senior officials present in the call were representatives from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Hungary. The dialogue will continue between the ten nations and Russia to discuss the next steps in resolving the conflict. 

According to Blinken, the ten countries are prioritizing “de-escalation through deterrence, defence, and dialogue” as talks surrounding the conflicts are set to continue throughout the first few weeks of 2022. Shortly after the meeting with the Bucharest Nine, Secretary of State Blinken invited German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock to Washington D.C. to discuss the military build-up on Ukraine’s border. Much like in the meeting with the nine NATO allies, Foreign Minister Baerbock stressed the need for a nonviolent solution to the military conflict, but both she and Blinken are concerned whether Russia will cooperate with their desire to solve the conflict without military involvement. 

Due to climate change, whether over borders, resources, or ideological differences, tensions will rise globally. Therefore, we must begin to look towards de-escalation to resolve international conflicts. Fortunately, this is the top priority for the Bucharest Nine, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Not only does their emphasis on nonviolence illustrate a strong desire to avoid an international military crisis, but it also shows their devotion to Ukrainian sovereignty that, historically, has been neglected.

Russia’s lack of consideration for Ukrainian sovereignty is not unique to the current military crisis. Russian political officials had expressed a desire to return to pre-1997 borders for almost the past decade when Russia seized part of Southern Ukraine in 2015—paired with their indifference with international concern, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov hinting that a possible military conflict has caused uneasiness amongst NATO allies. Since Russia has a history of building up its military before an invasion or using it as a tool of intimidation before international talks, many wonder if this is a bluff or if they fully intend on invading Ukraine. Until the US-Russia talks are held and updates are provided, it is difficult to tell Russia’s next move regarding Ukraine. Still, inevitably, a consensus will only be reached after long hours of negotiation and sacrifice from both parties. 

Larissa Cursaro