Russia, U.S. Fail to Resolve Deep Differences in Talks to Avoid Moscow’s Invasion of Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov move to their seats before their 90-minute meeting Friday in Geneva. (Alex Brandon / Pool Photo)

The top diplomats from Russia and the United States held “frank” talks Friday but failed to resolve deep differences over Ukraine, as the U.S. races to avert what it believes could be a new war in Europe.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said he told his Russian counterpart that the movement of any of Moscow’s troops into Ukraine would be met with a “swift, severe and united” retribution from the U.S. and NATO.

“We will continue to prepare, resolutely, to both paths that we have laid out for Russia: the path of diplomacy and dialogue, or the path of renewed aggression, confrontation and consequences,” Blinken told reporters after a 90-minute session with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, wrapping up a whirlwind week of diplomacy that also took him to Berlin and the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Lavrov continued his country’s denial of plans to invade the former Soviet republic and said Russia’s troops along its border with Ukraine — estimated at more than 100,000 — are there for military exercises. Moscow is calling up reserves in Russia and has dispatched troops to ally Belarus, on Ukraine’s northern border.

The U.S. has warned that Russia is planning an attack similar to its 2014 invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, which Moscow then “annexed.” U.S. officials have accused Russia of planning a “false flag” operation as a pretext for invading.

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SOURCE: LA Times, Tracy Wilkinson