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Russia and the US to Meet in Geneva as Ukraine War Fears Rise | Ukraine

Diplomats from Russia and the United States will hold crucial talks as a weeks-long standoff over Ukraine teeters on the cusp of a crucial and potentially violent phase, with concerns mounting that Europe could once again be beset by war.

Intelligence services in Ukraine claimed to have evidence that Russia was secretly moving weapons and oil into eastern Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet in Geneva, once a key crossroads of the Cold War, in a bid to head off a potential invasion. Russia from Ukraine amid Moscow’s demands for concessions from NATO over their relationship. with the former Soviet republic.

On Friday morning, Russia appeared to harden its stance ahead of the day’s talks. His Foreign Ministry said Moscow was seeking assurances from the West that included provisions requiring NATO forces to leave Romania and Bulgaria, countries that joined in 1997. That demand underscores the extent to which Vladimir Putin seeks to recreate the old sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.

The previous round of US-Russian talks on Jan. 11 lasted eight hours, but discussions at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva are being billed as shorter to see if there is any basis for diplomacy.

Blinken on Thursday downplayed any prospect of an immediate solution at the Geneva talks, which are due to last about two hours, saying any resolution to the difficult issues involved “will not happen quickly” and was certainly not expected on Friday.

Washington and its allies have repeatedly promised “serious” consequences, including scathing economic sanctions, though no military action, against Russia if an invasion is carried out by the 100,000 Russian troops that have been positioned near the Ukrainian border for weeks. .

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US President Joe Biden caused confusion among his allies just before the Geneva meeting when he hinted that Western sanctions would depend on the extent of a Russian invasion. He distinguished between a “minor intrusion” and an invasion, but has now retracted that comment after a protest in Kiev.

Separately, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg invited Russia to attend a second NATO-Russia council meeting at which NATO would present detailed plans on confidence-building measures, arms control, including intermediate missiles and cyber warfare.

On Thursday, Liz Truss, the UK foreign secretary, warned Russia that any invasion of Ukraine would only lead to a disaster on the scale of the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, Truss framed the conflict in Ukraine as part of a broader dispute between what she saw as liberal states and autocracies, including Russia and China.

He urged Vladimir Putin to “give up and walk away from Ukraine before he makes a massive strategic mistake.” The Kremlin, he said, “has not learned the lessons of history” and an “invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya.”

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