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Russia's top diplomat urges Putin to keep discussions open with West as Ukraine tensions mount

Russia Ukraine Tensions
Posted at 7:29 AM, Feb 14, 2022

MOSCOW — Russia's top diplomat has advised President Vladimir Putin to continue talks with the West on Russian security demands amid tensions over Ukraine.

Speaking at the start of a meeting with Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested Russia should continue a dialogue with the U.S. and its allies even though they have rejected Moscow's main security demands.

Lavrov noted that the U.S. has offered to conduct dialogue on limits for missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.

Asked by Putin if it made sense to continue diplomatic efforts, Lavrov responded that possibilities for talks haven't been exhausted and proposed to continue the negotiations.

The comments come after Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke for an hour on Saturday, in which the White House says Biden warned that an invasion of Ukraine would "produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia's standing."

Biden also warned that the U.S. and its allies would respond to an invasion with "swift and severe" military actions and sanctions.

Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, but denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine.

On Friday, White House officials said they believe that Russia has amassed enough troops on the Ukrainian border to conduct large-scale military operations at "any time."

Previously, analysts believed that Russia would wait to conduct any military action until after the Winter Olympic Games end this week as a gesture of goodwill to host China. But officials now say that it's possible an invasion could occur in the days ahead.

The Pentagon on Friday ordered an additional 3,000 U.S. troops to Poland to reassure allies.