Blinken met with Russian diplomats in hopes of easing tensions over potential Ukraine invasion

The U.S. committed to providing written responses to Russia's proposals in the coming days

Updated: January 21, 2022 - 11:32am

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva for about an hour-and-a-half as the two diplomats attempted to bring down the tension levels around the issue of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken said the meeting occurred at a "critical moment," though no tangible outcome was clear following the conversation. The United States and its allies remain steadfast in their rejection of Russia's most significant demands, though Blinken told his counterpart he would present written responses to Russia's proposals next week.

Russia, at present, has 100,000 troops lined up on the Ukrainian border creating the ongoing fear that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. Russia has repeatedly denied the accusation, but has not removed the troops.

Following the meeting, Blinken told reporters, "We didn’t expect any major breakthroughs to happen today, but I believe we are now on a clearer path to understanding each other’s positions."

Lavrov classified the talks as "constructive and useful," but added that he could not say "whether we are on the right track or not."

"We will understand that when we receive the U.S. written response to all of our proposals," he added.

Moscow is demanding that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, never be allowed to join NATO, and wants western nations to remove troops and military equipment from sections of eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO have wholesale rejected those demands, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is well aware that they are nonstarters.

Following some muddled messaging from the White House this week, Blinken said Friday that the U.S. is committed to the diplomatic mission with Russia, but if it fails and Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to pursue a "united, swift and severe response."