Tue, 17 May 2022

Washington [US], January 19 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have agreed to meet in Geneva on Friday amid the looming Ukraine crisis.

The news of the meeting of the two leaders was confirmed by a senior US State Department official.

Meanwhile, Blinken will also meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on January 19, the State Department announced on Tuesday.

"Secretary Blinken will begin his trip in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he will meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on January 19 to reinforce the United States' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Secretary will also meet with the employees and families of the US Embassy to communicate the Department's efforts to plan for contingencies, should Russia choose to escalate further," the statement said.

On January 20, Blinken will travel to Berlin "to 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," the statement continued.

"The Secretary will meet with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, followed by a meeting with the Transatlantic Quad," it concluded.

This will be the first high-level meeting between Russia and the United States since the diplomatic engagements last week, which failed to deliver breakthroughs on the situation at Ukraine's border where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US leader Joe Biden held a telephonic dialogue to discuss escalating tensions over UkraineTensions around Ukraine intensified over the past several months after Russia was accused of building up troops near the Ukrainian border, allegedly preparing for an invasion.

Moscow has denied the accusations, pointing to NATO's military activity near Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security.

Russia says it has the right to move forces within its own territory.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation said that there was evidence pointing to Russia's alleged involvement in recent cyberattacks against the country's government websites.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said its website, as well as websites of some other government bodies, were unavailable because of a cyberattack. The Ukrainian Security Service and the National Police opened a criminal investigation into the attacks. The Ukrainian law enforcement agencies said Russian special services may have been involved.

In December, Russia presented its draft proposals on security guarantees to the United States and NATO. On January 10, Russia and the US held a round of the strategic stability dialogue in Geneva. On Wednesday, the first NATO-Russia Council meeting since 2019 took place at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The meeting was followed by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe talks in Vienna. (ANI)

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