Speed Reads

canceled

Blinken calls off meeting with Russian counterpart

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will no longer meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later this week, saying on Tuesday it "does not make any sense" now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent troops to separatist regions in Ukraine.

Putin on Monday announced he recognized the breakaway regions, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, as independent states, and was sending forces there to serve as "peacekeepers," a claim dismissed by the United States and its allies.

Blinken, who sent Lavrov a letter telling him their meeting is off, said Russia has "made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy," making it unnecessary for Blinken and Lavrov to get together; last week, Blinken said he proposed the meeting with his Russian counterpart in order to "discuss the steps that we can take to resolve this crisis without conflict," but it would only take place if Russia did not invade Ukraine.

The United States announced sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, targeting two of the country's financial institutions and several "elite" individuals and their family members. The U.S., Blinken said, will "not allow Russia to claim the pretense of diplomacy at the same time it accelerates its march down the path of conflict and war," and called the crisis in the region "the greatest threat to security in Europe since World War II."