GENEVA (AP), -- The United States of America and Russia tried to lower the temperature in a heated dispute over Ukraine. However, they did not report any breakthroughs in high level, high-stakes negotiations on Friday that were meant to prevent a Russian invasion.
At what was, according to the American, a "critical moment", U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva with seemingly impossible and diametrically opposing demands.
However, there was no movement from either side and Blinken stated that the U.S. and its allies remained resolute in their rejection of Russia's most pressing demands.
However, Blinken informed Lavrov that the U.S. will present Russia with written responses next week. He suggested that they would meet again soon after.
Many fear that Russia is planning an invasion, despite the fact that there are approximately 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies are trying to put together a united front to stop that from happening or coordinate a strong response if it does.
After the meeting, Blinken stated that although we didn't anticipate any major breakthroughs today, he believes that we now have a better understanding of each other's positions.
Blinken stated that Lavrov reiterated Russia's assertion that it does not intend to invade Ukraine, but that the U.S. and its allies aren't convinced.
"We are looking at what is visible for all, and it's actions and not words and not words that make the difference," he stated, adding that Russia should withdraw its troops from Ukraine's border if it wants to prove its point.
Lavrov said that the talks were "constructive" and "useful" and that the U.S. had agreed to write responses to Russian demands regarding Ukraine and NATO. This could delay any imminent aggression by a few days.
Lavrov, however, declined to describe the U.S. promise.
He said to reporters, "I cannot say whether we're on the right track" "We will understand it when we get the U.S. written reply to all our proposals."
Moscow demanded that NATO make it clear that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, will not be allowed to join. It also demands that allies remove troops and military gear from eastern Europe.
These demands were flatly rejected by the U.S. and NATO allies, and they claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of them. They said that they are open to making less dramatic moves.
Blinken stated that the U.S. would welcome a meeting between Putin, U.S. President Joe Biden if it was "useful" and productive. The two leaders met in Geneva once, but have had many virtual conversations about Ukraine which have proved to be largely inconclusive.
Washington and its allies repeatedly promised "severe consequences" such as imposing economic sanctions on Russia, but not military action, if it invades.
Blinken reiterated that warning Friday. Blinken reiterated that the U.S. and its allies are committed to diplomacy but also committed, "if this proves impossible and Russia decides against Ukraine's aggression, to a united swift and severe response."
He said that he wanted to have the chance to share with Lavrov concrete ideas to address some concerns that you have raised as well as deep concerns that many of our have about Russia's actions.
Conflict is already raging in Ukraine. Russia's Putin took control of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and supported a separatist insurgency within eastern Ukraine. This was part of a simmering, but largely unresolved conflict with Ukrainian forces which has claimed more than 14,000 lives. Putin's actions were not subject to any international sanctions, but the West claims that a new invasion would have different consequences.
Blinken met with Ukraine's president in Kyiv, as well as top diplomats from France, Germany, and Britain this week, ahead of his meeting in Kiev.
The United States increased sanctions on Thursday, adding to its verbal warnings to Russia. Four Ukrainian officials were subject to new sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department. Blinken stated that the four officials were part of a Kremlin attempt to undermine Ukraine's ability "independently to function" in 2020.
Friday's demands by the Russian Foreign Ministry were reiterated by NATO. They also demanded that NATO does not expand into Ukraine and that no NATO weapons be placed near Russian borders. Allies should also withdraw from Central and Eastern Europe.
Three statements were issued by the State Department in the meantime. Two on Russian "disinformation" and one on Ukraine. The third was entitled "Taking action to expose and disrupt Russia's destabilization campaign in Ukraine." These documents accuse Russia and Putin of trying restructure the former Soviet Union using intimidation and force.
These statements were mocked by the Russian Foreign Ministry, who claimed they had been written by an Orwellian Ministry of Truth. Lavrov sarcastically dismissed them.
He said, "I hope not everybody in the State Department worked on those materials. There were some who were working with the essence of our propositions and their substance."
The Russian Foreign Ministry denied Western claims that Moscow wanted to rebuild the Soviet Empire and create a zone of influence in Eastern Europe. It also claimed that the West thinks in categories of areas of influence.
Blinken has stressed U.S. unity and its allies against a possible Russian invasion. This was a common criticism after Biden said that retaliation for Russian aggression towards Ukraine would depend on the details, and that a "minor intrusion" could cause discord among Western allies.
Biden attempted to clarify his remarks on Thursday by warning that any Russian troop movement across Ukraine's borders would be considered an invasion and that Moscow would pay a "high price" for such actions.
Biden stated, "I have been completely clear with President Putin." "He doesn't misunderstand: Any assembled Russian unit that crosses the Ukrainian border is considered an invasion."
Russia accused the West Thursday of plotting "provocations” in Ukraine. It cited the recent delivery of weapons by British military transport planes to the country.