U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken Cancels Meeting With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

United States State Secretary Antony Blinken on Feb. 22 cancelled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after Russia recognized the independence of two breakaway regions in Ukraine.

“Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time,” Blinken announced at a press conference.

Blinken added that U.S. allies and partners agreed to the decision and that he sent a letter to inform Lavrov.

Blinken said the meeting planned in Geneva on Feb. 24 was “to discuss our countries’ respective concerns about European security” and that he accepted the meeting on the condition that Russia would not invade Ukraine.

“The United States, and I personally, remain committed to diplomacy if Russia is prepared to take demonstrable steps to provide the international community with any degree of confidence that it’s serious about de-escalating and finding a diplomatic solution,” Blinken said.

“We will not allow Russia to claim the pretense of diplomacy at the same time it accelerates its march down the path of conflict and war,” Blinken further said.

The cancellation came after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the Russian-backed breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states.

Blinken’s announcement also came after the Russian parliament formally granted Putin’s request to use military forces outside of Russia.

U.S. President Joe Biden called Putin’s moves “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

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