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U.S. sends Moscow diplomatic path for averting war in Ukraine

By Rich Klein
U.S. sends Moscow diplomatic path for averting war in Ukraine
In a State Department news conference Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States is committed to uphold and defend Ukraine's sovereignty. File Photo by Toms Kalnins/EPA-EFE

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The United States delivered a paper to Moscow on Wednesday, laying out a diplomatic path to avert war amid Russia's buildup of military troops on Ukraine's border, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

In a State Department news conference, Blinken said the United States is committed to uphold and defend Ukraine's sovereignty.

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"We prefer diplomacy, and we're prepared to move forward where there is the possibility of communication cooperation if Russia de-escalates its aggression toward Ukraine, stops the inflammatory rhetoric and approaches discussions about the future security in Europe in a spirit of reciprocity."

Blinken said the document, delivered to Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, included input from Ukraine and European allies and partners.

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"All told, It sets out a serous diplomatic path forward should Russia choose it," he said.

Russia has demanded security guarantees as NATO expands in Eastern Europe.

The proposal also addresses other areas of potential for progress, "including arms control related to missiles in Europe...our interest in a follow-on agreement to a new START treaty that covers all nuclear weapons."

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Blinken said NATO was going to develop and deliver its own paper to Moscow, but that "there's no daylight between the U.S. and its allies and partners on these matters."

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He said the State Department was not going to release the paper publicly "because we think diplomacy has best chance to succeed if we provide space for confidential talks. We hope and expect Russia has same view and will take proposal seriously."

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed more than 100,000 troops and military equipment at multiple borders with Ukraine.

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The Pentagon announced Monday it has put up to 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert to deploy to Eastern Europe.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament it would not sit by as the West moved weapons to Ukraine.

"It would suffice to mention the increasingly provocative exercises held near our borders, the drawing of the Kiev regime into the NATO orbit, its supply with lethal weapons, and the push for its direct provocations against the Russian Federation," according to a transcript of his remarks reported by the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron is involved in talks with Germany, Russia and Ukraine about the crisis.

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