The Kremlin and the West have signaled a diplomatic path out of the Ukraine crisis, even as Russia continues preparations for a possible invasion, including moving troops and military equipment close to its neighbor, the Associated Press reported.
In their meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated that Russia is ready to continue the dialogue about its security grievances that led to the crisis.
The Associated Press said the comments were intended to send a message to the world about Putin’s position and offered some hope that war could be avoided, even as Washington, London, and other countries continued their warnings that troops could move into Ukraine as soon as Wednesday.
Lavrov said that the talks cannot continue indefinitely, but he proposes to continue and expand them at this stage, noting that Washington offered to discuss limits to the deployment of missiles in Europe, restrictions on military exercises, and other confidence-building measures.
Moscow is seeking to ensure that NATO will not allow Ukraine and any of the countries of the former Soviet Union to join it as members. And it wants NATO to stop the deployment of weapons in Ukraine and keep its forces away from Eastern Europe.
Lavrov said the prospects for the talks were far from exhausted.
Putin indicated that the West might try to drag Russia into endless talks and asked if there was a chance of reaching an agreement. Lavrov responded by saying that his ministry would not allow the United States and its allies to sideline Russia’s basic demands.
The United States responded calmly, and White House Deputy spokeswoman Karen Jan Pepper said that the path to diplomacy still exists if Russia chooses to engage constructively, but Washington is vigilant about the possibilities of this given the steps Moscow is taking on the ground in plain sight.