US, Russia to try more diplomacy amid tensions over Ukraine
Top U.S. and Russian diplomats agreed Friday to keep talking in the standoff over Ukraine, even though their meeting produced no movement in the crisis that has seen Moscow mass tens of thousands of troops at the border and the West ramp up supplies of weapons to Kyiv.
With fears of an invasion of Ukraine running high and seemingly intractable demands, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for about 90 minutes in Geneva at what the American said was a “critical moment.”
Expectations were low going in, and there was no breakthrough. Blinken told Lavrov the U.S. would give Russia written responses to Moscow’s proposals next week and suggested the two would likely meet again shortly after that — offering some hope that any invasion would be delayed for at least a few more days.
Blinken said the U.S. and its allies remain resolute in rejecting Russia’s most important demands, which were reiterated Friday.
Moscow wants NATO to promise that Ukraine will never be added as a member, that no alliance weapons will be deployed near Russian borders, and that it pull back its forces from Central and Eastern Europe.
Despite that, there was no indication the U.S. responses would be any different from the flat-out rejections already expressed by Washington and its allies, clouding future diplomatic efforts.
Lavrov, meanwhile, called the talks “constructive and useful” but declined to characterize the U.S. pledge.