Blinken tells Lavrov diplomacy remains open, but requires Moscow to ‘deescalate’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday that diplomatic channels remained “open” to avoid conflict in Ukraine but would require Moscow to “deescalate,” the State Department said.

A Russian invasion of Ukraine “would result in a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

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During a call between Washington and Moscow’s top diplomats Saturday, “the secretary made clear that a diplomatic path to resolving the crisis remained open, but it would require Moscow to deescalate and engage in good-faith discussions,” Price said.

The statement comes ahead of a hastily arranged call between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin aimed at defusing one of the gravest crises in East-West relations since the Cold War.

Weeks of tensions that have seen Russia surround its western neighbor with more than 100,000 troops revved up another notch when the Kremlin launched its biggest naval drills in years across the Black Sea.

According to Russia, Lavrov accused the United States during the call of seeking to provoke conflict in Ukraine.

“The propaganda campaign unleashed by the United States and its allies concerning ‘Russian aggression’ against Ukraine pursues provocative goals,” Lavrov said, according to the Russian foreign ministry.

Earlier Saturday the United States ordered all non-emergency Kyiv embassy staff to leave Ukraine because of the threat of invasion.

Multiple other countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan have advised their citizens to leave.

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