U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attend a news conference in Washington on February 22.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he has canceled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that was planned for later this week.
Blinken had agreed to meet with Lavrov only if Russia did not invade Ukraine.
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“Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time," Blinken said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Washington.
"I consulted with our allies and partners; all agreed," Blinken said, adding that he sent Lavrov a letter on February 22 informing him he would no longer meet with him.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said earlier that Lavrov was still prepared to hold talks with Blinken following President Vladimir Putin’s order to send troops into regions held by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine.
"Even during the most difficult moments...We say: We are ready for negotiations," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on February 22.
"So, our position remains the same. We are ready for a negotiating process," she said.
Lavrov and Blinken were scheduled to meet on February 24 in Geneva to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
Putin on February 21 said he would recognize the independence bid of separatist leaders in two regions they held in Ukraine.
He also said he would send in Russian troops to serve as what he called “peacekeepers” -- a move condemned by the West and which the United States called “nonsense.”
President Joe Biden said the United States would impose the “first tranche" of sanctions on Russia for what he said was the beginning of an invasion of Ukraine.
The measures include blocking sanctions on two Russian banks and sanctions to block Moscow’s access to Western financial institutions, Biden said, declaring that Moscow's actions against Ukraine had violated international law.