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Tue Jan 18, 2022, 08:54 PM

Blinken to meet Russian counterpart amid rising concerns over buildup near Ukraine

Last edited Tue Jan 18, 2022, 09:53 PM - Edit history (1)

The U.S.' top diplomat is scheduled to meet with Russia's foreign minister in Geneva on Friday following visits to Ukraine and Germany in an effort to deescalate tensions as Russia builds up more forces near Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed Tuesday for a series of stops aimed at a diplomatic solution to the threat Russia is posing on Ukraine's borders. In Kyiv on Wednesday, Blinken will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian leaders.

From there, he will travel to Berlin, where he will consult with German, French and British counterparts. And on Friday he is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

Blinken's travel follows a trip to Kyiv last Wednesday by CIA Director Wiliam Burns, who met with intelligence counterparts and spoke with President Zelenskyy about "assessments of risk" to Ukraine, according to a U.S. official.


U.S. slams Russian troop moves in Belarus as Ukraine crisis deepens

Russia’s latest troop deployment to Belarus represents a hostile development in the ongoing dispute over the future of Ukraine, senior State Department officials said Tuesday, as U.S. and European officials ramped up diplomatic and economic pressure on Moscow.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the two agreed to meet later this week in Geneva, after Blinken visits Ukraine and Germany. Blinken “stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions surrounding the deeply troubling Russian military build-up in and near Ukraine,” according to a State Department readout of the call.

Meanwhile, Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, indicated that his government would consider halting the controversial Russia-Germany Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline if Russia once again invades Ukraine, as Western observers fear.

The overall picture for Ukraine appears grim, as diplomatic appeals and threats of sanctions have yet to convince Russian leader Vladimir Putin to take an invasion off the table. U.S. officials say they do not know whether Putin has made up his mind about another incursion into Ukraine — which he first invaded in 2014 — but the signs are not reassuring.


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