US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present at the meeting of the ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the end of next week in Stockholm, the Swedish presidency announced on Friday, AFP reports.
It is the first time since 2017 that US and Russian ministers will be present together at the annual meeting of ministers, said their Swedish counterpart Ann Linde, during a press conference.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international forum in which the United States and Russia are both members, has struggled to play an increased role since the 2014 invasion of Crimea and the return of East-West tensions.
Among several statements, Sweden will submit to the OSCE a text on Ukraine which will in all likelihood be blocked by Moscow, mainly because it states that Crimea is in Ukraine.
The meeting on December 2 and 3 takes place amid tensions on the border between Ukraine and Russia, where Kiev and the West fear an offensive by Moscow, according to Agerpres.ro.
“We must always be open-minded, but there is no sign that Russia will not honor its commitments,” said Ann Linde, who met with Lavrov in Moscow last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his country was “fully prepared” for a possible military escalation with Moscow, accused of deploying new troops near Ukraine’s borders.
The case of migrants on the Belarusian border with the European Union will also be discussed next week.
In all, about 50 ministers are announced, including Britain’s Liz Truss and Ukrainian and Belarusian foreign ministers, according to Stockholm.
Held at a conference center near Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the meeting would be able to take place in the planned format, which is already relatively small, despite the resurgence of COVID-19 and the emergence of a new problematic variant in South Africa.
Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the OSCE in 2021, is due to hand over the baton to Poland by 2022.