Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to continue diplomatic talks as the United States and Western countries warn of a Ukrainian invasion in the coming days, The New York Times reports.
The US and other countries moved to evacuate their personnel from Ukraine over the weekend, warning that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.
But Putin held a televised meeting with Lavrov on Monday morning in an apparent effort to extend diplomatic efforts.
Lavrov told the Russian leader that diplomatic solutions are “far from exhausted.”
“I would propose continuing and intensifying them,” he said, adding that he supports continuing negotiations on the “security guarantees” Russia has sought from the West.
The Times report noted that the public meeting appeared to be a signal that Russia “might continue using the threat of an invasion” to “squeeze diplomatic concessions from the West, rather than resorting to immediate military action.”
NATO key sticking point:
Russia has demanded that Ukraine be barred from joining NATO, as well as a rollback of NATO forces in Eastern Europe.
The US and NATO rejected those demands but proposed nuclear arms control and limits on military exercises instead.
The Kremlin has yet to respond.
Lavrov told Putin on Monday that he had prepared a response but did not offer details.
President Joe Biden spoke with Putin on Saturday but the talks resulted in “no fundamental change in the dynamic that has unfolded now for several weeks,” according to the White House.
US warns of buildup:
The Kremlin has continued to amass troops around the Ukrainian border.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Sunday that “good sources of intelligence” indicate “that things are sort of building now to some kind of crescendo opportunity for Mr. Putin.”
Ukrainian officials have been frustrated with American talks of a looming invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed the talk of hurting Ukraine’s economy after insurers refused to cover flights crossing over Ukrainian airspace.