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U.S.'s Blinken to visit Ukraine after dead-end Russia talks

by Reuters
Tuesday, 18 January 2022 15:08 GMT

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WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's top diplomat will visit Kyiv this week after talks with Russia ended in a stalemate last week amid concerns in the United States and other Western nations that Moscow is preparing to again invade Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

Blinken then heads to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, followed by a meeting with the Transatlantic Quad, the department said in a statement, referring to a format that involves the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

Blinken will "discuss recent diplomatic engagements with Russia and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including Allies' and partners' readiness to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia," it said.

Biden has warned of severe economic consequences for Moscow if Russia, which has massed troops near Ukraine's borders, invades its neighbor. Russia, which invaded Ukraine in 2014, has denied any plans for a fresh attack but has made several demands and said it could take unspecified military action unless the West agrees to them.

Multi-lateral talks last week ended without an agreement.

Ahead of his trip, Blinken spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday and urged de-escalation, the department said in a separate statement.

Lavrov separately said Moscow would welcome U.S. diplomatic efforts and reiterated Russian accusations that Ukraine was "sabotaging" agreements aimed at ending the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Germany's Baerbock, in Moscow for talks with her counterpart, on Tuesday said her country was ready to pay a high economic price to defend its fundamental values in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Kyiv has sought weapons from Western nations to shore up its defense. On Monday, Britain said it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to help it defend itself. (Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Timothy Heritage and Tomasz Janowski)

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