Top U.S. and Russian diplomats have agreed to keep working to ease tensions over Ukraine as the United States promised a written response to Russian security demands and kept open the possibility of another presidential meeting.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met on January 21 in Geneva at what Blinken said was a "critical moment" in the crisis over the buildup of tens of thousands of troops near Russia's border with Ukraine.
Blinken told Lavrov the U.S. would give Russia written responses to Moscow's requests next week and suggested the two would likely meet again shortly after that.
Blinken also said the U.S. and its allies remain resolute in rejecting Russia's most important demands, including promises that Ukraine will never be added as a member of NATO and that no alliance weapons will be deployed near Russian borders.
But Blinken said he believes the U.S. and Russia "are now on a clearer path to understanding each other's positions."
Based on the conversations that have taken place this month, Blinken said he thinks there is a "means to address some of the mutual concerns that we have about security.'
Blinken said Lavrov repeated Russia's insistence that it has no plans to invade Ukraine despite amassing an estimated 127,000 troops in occupied Crimea and near Ukraine's borders, raising alarm bells in Western capitals that it is preparing further military action against Ukraine.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036