Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in Switzerland on Friday to discuss Ukraine, officials say.
Blinken will travel amid concerns raised by Ukraine and its allies over the tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed in and near Ukraine.
“The United States does not want conflict. We want peace,” a senior US State Department official said Tuesday.
“[Russian]President (Vladimir) Putin has it within his power to take steps to de-escalate this crisis so that the United States and Russia can maintain a relationship that is not based on hostility or crisis,” the official told reporters.
Russia denies planning a new military offensive.
Blinken will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday.
He then meets German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Berlin and later the Transatlantic Quad, which is a format involving the United States, Britain, France and Germany.
Blinken will discuss “recent diplomatic engagements with Russia and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including the willingness of allies and partners to impose massive consequences and heavy economic costs on Russia,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday to seek a diplomatic diversion, the senior official said.
Blinken spoke to Lavrov on Tuesday and urged a de-escalation, the Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement.
The senior official said the two decided on the call that it would be useful to meet in person.
“We have made it very clear that significant progress through diplomatic channels is only possible in an environment of de-escalation. But we saw the exact opposite of Russia,” the US official said.
“We are now at a stage where Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine at any time.”
Lavrov separately said Russia would welcome US diplomatic efforts and reiterated Russian accusations that Ukraine was “sabotaging” agreements aimed at ending the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Biden has warned of serious economic consequences for Moscow officials if Russia invades its neighbor.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in 2014, has denied any plans for a new attack but has made several demands and said it could take unspecified military action unless the NATO military alliance agrees to them.
Germany’s Baerbock, who was in Moscow for talks with her counterpart, said Tuesday her country was willing to pay a heavy economic price to defend its core values in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Kiev has been looking to allies for weapons to bolster its defenses.
On Monday Britain said it had started supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to help it defend itself.