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US cancels diplomatic summit with Russia

The US has called off the meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, planned for Thursday in Geneva, citing what it said was the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine through recognition of two rebel regions.

“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 on Tuesday, in a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmitry Kuleba at Foggy Bottom.

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Russia had proposed the Lavrov-Blinken meeting last Wednesday, and the US accepted it on Friday, at which point the time and date were set. However, the State Department conditioned their acceptance on Moscow not “invading” Ukraine – something the US now says has happened.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent republics, accusing Kiev of refusing to live up to its commitments under the Minsk agreements, in particular granting autonomy to the two regions. 

While the Russian legislature has authorized the use of troops, Putin stopped short of confirming whether any Russian forces have already been deployed to the republics.

Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence in 2014, after the US-backed nationalists ousted the democratically elected government in Kiev in the so-called Maidan revolution. Moscow initially declined to recognize their request for recognition, insisting that the conflict is an internal Ukrainian matter and taking part in the “Normandy Four” format to mediate the crisis alongside France and Germany.

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