Antony Blinken agrees to meet Russian FM Sergie Lavrov amid Ukraine crisis


US secretary of state Antony Blinken has agreed to meet his Russian counterpart Sergie Lavrov next week given “there is no further Russian invasion of Ukraine," the state department said Thursday. Blinken had initially suggested meeting Lavrov in Europe next week because, state department spokesperson Ned Price said, the US believes the “only responsible way to resolve this crisis is through diplomacy and dialogue.” “The Russians have responded with proposed dates for late next week, which we are accepting, provided there is no further Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Price tweeted. “If they do invade in the coming days, it will make clear they were never serious about diplomacy.”

Earlier on Thursday, Blinken told the United Nations Security Council that the US doesn’t know precisely how the Russian invasion will take place but laid out the possible invasion plan which the world can expect to see in the coming days. He claimed that Russia plans to manufacture a pretext, which could be a violent event for which Kremlin will blame Ukraine, or an outrageous accusation against the Ukrainian government.

“We don’t know exactly the form it will take. It could be a fabricated so-called “terrorist” bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians, or a fake – even a real – attack using chemical weapons,” the top US diplomat said. Blinken added that the Russian government may “theatrically convene” emergency meetings to address the “manufactured provocation” and issue proclamations declaring that Moscow must respond to defend Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

The next phase of the invasion plan, according to Blinken, will be dropping missiles and bombs across Ukraine and shutting down key Ukrainian institutions by cyberattacks.

“After that, Russian tanks and soldiers will advance on key targets that have already been identified and mapped out in detailed plans. We believe these targets include Russia’s capital –Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million people,” he warned.

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