Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov and Antony Blinken are meeting on Friday for what may be their last attempt at negotiations on the crisis in Ukraine.
It happens when the US and Russian foreign ministers sit down at the same table in Geneva on Friday.
“Diplomacy is alive,” said a US official.
– Foreign Minister Blinken is 150 percent willing to check whether there is a diplomatic department here.
Støre believes Norway must be prepared for hybrid attacks
The signals from the Russian side are rather mixed.
– I hope that there will be a breakthrough at the meeting between foreign ministers Lavrov and Blinken, says the head of the Russian delegation Konstantin Gavrilov, according to the RIA news agency.
But in another Explanation, the same Gavrilov says threateningly that «the countdown has begun».
– The moment of truth has come, when the West can either accept our proposals, or we will have to find other ways to ensure Russia’s security.
Several observers interpret this to mean that the Russians see Friday’s negotiations as a last chance for an agreement after several failed meetings earlier in the month.
This latest crisis in Ukraine came after US intelligence sounded the alarm just before Christmas about a violent Russian troop buildup near the neighboring country’s border.
At the same time, Russia presented a long list of demands.
Among other things, guarantees were demanded that NATO would never grant Ukraine and Georgia membership of the alliance.
This was flatly rejected by the West.
– We have international agreements that say all countries have the right to choose who they want to be allies with. But the chances of Ukraine joining NATO in the near future are very slim. First, they have a lot to do when it comes to developing democracy, said US President Joe Biden at one press conference Wednesday evening.
This does not seem to reassure the Russians, who say they are now awaiting a detailed written response to their demands.
Meanwhile, Western leaders fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine.
– I’m not sure if he’s made up his mind what he wants to do, but I think he’ll go in. Biden says he will have to do something.
Practice in the North Sea
After some confusion during Wednesday’s press conference over what Biden thought Western reactions were, the US president now says any Russian incursion into Ukraine will be met with sanctions never seen before by Putin.
But whether that leaves an impression on the Kremlin is difficult to deduce from Thursday’s statements.
Russia and Ukraine: A very tense situation
– I have great hope that our American counterparts will show common sense and pragmatism, says Russian negotiator Gavrilov, who believes that any further talks should be reserved for the US and Russia, and other European countries should be excluded.
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to flex its muscles. In addition to the more than 100,000 troops now marching along Ukraine’s borders, Russian authorities say they will soon begin one of their biggest naval exercises ever.
The exercise takes place in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific, in the Atlantic and also in front of Norway’s living room door – in the North Sea, they say The Moscow time.
According to the newspaper, more than 10,000 soldiers and over 140 naval vessels will take part.