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U.S., Russia agree to keep talking about Ukraine

The top U.S. and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday but agreed to keep talking to try to resolve a crisis that has stoked fears of a military conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a "swift, severe" response if Russia invades Ukraine as Russia gathers troops and runs military drills near its border - Blinken said Russia faced a choice.

"It can choose the path of diplomacy that can lead to peace and security, or the path that will lead only to conflict, severe consequences and international condemnation."

Blinken described the talks as "frank and substantive."

"This was not negotiation but a candid exchange of concerns and ideas. I made clear to Minister Lavrov that there are certain issues and fundamental principles that the United States and our partners and allies are committed to defend. That includes those that would impede the sovereign right of the Ukrainian people to write their own future. There is no trade space there, none."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the ball was in Washington's court, and that Moscow would understand whether talks were on the right track once it received a written response to its sweeping security demands from the United States, including a halt to NATO's eastward expansion and a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

"Our concerns are not imaginary, but about real threats and facts that nobody is really hiding - stuffing Ukraine with weapons, sending hundreds of Western military instructors."

After the talks ended, both sides agreed to keep trying to resolve the brewing border crisis.

Blinken saw grounds to hope that mutual security concerns could be addressed.

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