Polish FM talks Ukraine, energy security with US secretary of state

Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych/Twitter

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau held talks in Washington on Friday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken which touched on the Russian threat to Ukraine, the probable extended stay of Russian troops in Belarus, and energy security.

Rau met Blinken on the third day of a visit to the USA, both as foreign minister and as a representative of Poland's leadership of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

After the 45-minute meeting with Blinken, Rau told a press briefing that they talked about the situation around Ukraine.

"Of course we agree that, despite certain signs a few days ago, it is by no means improving radically," he said.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine and has demanded concessions from Nato, including assurances the bloc will not accept any new eastern members. Nato has rejected the Kremlin's demands.

Prior to Friday's talks, Blinken said that in solidarity with Poland, the US had done a great deal to clearly tell Russia it had two pathways available: that of dialogue and diplomacy or that of aggression and maximum consequences.

Blinken added that while he hoped Russia would choose the former, the USA and its allies were also prepared for the latter.

Rau told the reporters that he and Blinken also talked about the probable extended stay of Russian units in Belarus and how that represents a challenge for the North Atlantic Pact.

Rau suggested that, according to his talks in Washington, the process of reinforcing Nato's eastern flank would not end with a recently announced deployment of 3,000 US troops to Poland, Romania and Germany, and that the quantity of Nato forces would grow in line with Russia's increasingly aggressive behaviour.

"The whole strategy of the North Atlantic Pact work towards deterrence and defence having a symmetrical nature, otherwise it would make no sense," he said.

Asked by PAP about US intelligence information that the Russians were preparing to stage an attack on the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region as a pretext to invading the country, Rau replied: "Hope and conviction must be expressed, and common sense called upon, that nothing of that sort should happen."

Rau said the meeting also concerned cooperation in other fields, including energy security, both in the Central and Eastern European region and "the possibilities of ensuring the energy security of Ukraine itself in the context of gas supplied from Norway or the United States."

The Polish foreign minister also said he had told Blinken that the OSCE, which he said was also under pressure due to the situation around Ukraine, was starting a dialogue on a security concept to include "all those issues that currently appear in diplomatic correspondence."

He added that he wanted to bring "ping-pong diplomacy" between Russia, the USA and Nato on the OSCE forum.