BERLIN (AP) - Diplomatic efforts to avert a possible imminent Russian attack on Ukraine, which U.S. officials have warned about, began a new round Monday. Russia's top diplomat recommended that President Vladimir Putin continue talks, and Germany's chancellor met with Ukraine's president.
However, the US announced that it would close its embassy in Ukraine and move all remaining staff there to a city near the Polish border.
Earlier, the British prime minister said Europe was "on the brink of a precipice", citing a US warning that Russia could invade Ukraine in the next 48 hours.
WHAT IS THE NEWS FROM RUSSIA?
The Kremlin signaled on Monday that it was ready to continue talking to the West about the security complaints that led to the current crisis, raising hopes that Russia will not invade Ukraine within days, as Western officials increasingly fear.
In an orchestrated appearance in front of television cameras, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argued that the opportunities for dialogue have not yet been exhausted. This seemed designed to send a message that Putin himself believes that hopes for a diplomatic solution have not yet faded.
Lavrov said the talks "cannot continue indefinitely, but he would suggest continuing and expanding them at this stage." He noted that Washington has offered to agree to limits on the use of missiles in Europe, limits on military exercises and other confidence-building measures. discuss the dimensions.
Asked by Putin if it made sense for him to continue diplomatic efforts, Lavrov replied that the opportunities for talks were "far from exhausted" and suggested that negotiations continue. He said his ministry would not allow the United States and its allies to block Russia's key demands.
US officials responded that they were looking for action, not just words. "If Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are followed by concrete and tangible signs of de-escalation, we would certainly appreciate it," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. "We haven't seen that yet."
WHAT IS THE LATEST ACTION BY THE UNITED STATES?
The United States said on Monday it will close its embassy in Ukraine and move remaining staff to a city near the Polish border amid growing fears of an invasion. He also repeated warnings to private US citizens in Ukraine to leave Ukraine immediately.
The State Department's announcement follows a decision it made over the weekend to order all non-essential diplomats out of Kiev. The embassy will now cease operations and the property will be guarded by local Ukrainian security forces.
A small number of embassy staff from Kiev will relocate to Lviv, where they will provide limited consular services to Americans and keep communications open with the Ukrainian government, the department said.
The State Department also urged Americans in Belarus to leave the country immediately due to "unusual and concerning Russian military buildups along the Belarusian-Ukrainian border."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said the United States would offer Ukraine a loan guarantee of up to $1 billion to bolster its economic stability "in the face of Russia's destabilizing behavior."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels this week and will also visit Ukraine's neighbors Poland and Lithuania. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin will meet with the presidents, secretaries of defense and other key leaders in Poland and Lithuania, as well as US forces in those countries. Kirby said Austin is also planning a trilateral meeting with the defense chiefs of the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan briefed Senate leaders Monday afternoon. Senators are considering a resolution in support of Ukraine's independence, but refuse to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.