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Top US and Russian diplomats meet as tensions continue to rise over Ukraine

Antony Blinken, Sergey Lavrov US Russia talks
Posted at 5:29 AM, Jan 21, 2022

GENEVA — The United States and Russia are trying to avert another devastating conflict in Europe. But the two powers' top diplomats warned Friday that no breakthrough was imminent as fears rise that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine.

Armed with seemingly intractable and diametrically opposed demands, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva.

With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops massed near Ukraine, many fear Moscow is preparing for an invasion, although Russia denies that.

The U.S. and its allies are scrambling to present a united front to prevent a potential invasion or coordinate a tough response if they can't.

When asked about the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine at a press conference Wednesday, President Joe Biden said NATO could get involved if things got violent.

"If there is something that is where there's Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters, et cetera, I think that changes everything," Biden said. "But it depends on what he does, to what extent we'll get total unity on the NATO front."

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back, saying that any invasion by Russia should elicit a strong response from NATO allies.

"There are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties," Zelensky said.

U.S.-Russian talks earlier this month proved largely fruitless. Russia said it would not draw down troops at the Ukrainian border if the U.S. did not remove its forces from Eastern Europe or offer a guarantee that Ukraine would not be extended an invitation to join NATO in the future. U.S. diplomats rebuffed both requests.