Russia-Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Began Naval Drills With China, Iran Ahead of U.S. Talks

Live Updates
  • The United States is taking a firm stance against Russia's actions towards Ukraine and the its ongoing campaign to spread disinformation.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Friday in Geneva.
  • Blinken called the meeting a "candid exchange of ideas" and reiterated that any action from Russia against Ukraine would result in "swift, severe and united response" from the U.S. and its allies.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Blinken Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine and hopes the U.S. will address Russia's security concerns.
  • President Joe Biden will meet with Blinken and his security advisors in the coming days. The White House said the president is open to meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin if necessary.
  • Blinken said the U.S. is prepared to continue diplomatic discussions with Russia in the weeks ahead, but that decision ultimately lies with Putin.
Blinken and Russia
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shake hands before their meeting on January 21, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. Alex Brandon/AFP via Getty Images

Russia ran naval drill with China, Iran ahead of U.S. talks

Russia began conducting naval drills with China and Iran Friday, the same day it held talks with the U.S. about threats against Ukraine in Geneva.

Russia's Defense Ministry said this week that a detachment of its Pacific Fleet, including missile cruiser Varyag, anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs and the sea tanker Boris Butoma, entered the Iranian port of Chabahar for the exercises.

The drills began Friday and included rescuing a floating vessel, releasing a hijacked vessel, shooting at targets, "and other tactical and operational exercises," news outlet Hamshahri reported, according to a translation.

Moscow announced the trilateral exercises dubbed CHIRU in August and said the drills with China and Iran were aimed at "ensuring international shipping safety" and "combating piracy."

Russia's Defense Ministry said the exercises would help its navy and air forces work together "to protect Russian national interests" in global seas "as well as to counter military threats to Russia from the sea and ocean."

Russia says its officials never threatened Ukrainian people

Following talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russia denied threats were made towards Ukraine.

In a tweet, Russia said it's officials never threatened the Ukrainian people.

Russia also said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Blinken there would be "most serious consequences" if Russia's "legitimate" concerns are ignored.

Fewer than one in six Americans want U.S. to send troops to defend an invasion of Ukraine

Fewer than one in six Americans want the U.S. to deploy soldiers to defend Ukraine if Russia invades the country, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action (COSA), in partnership with the Trafalgar Group, found that 15.3 percent of likely voters believe the U.S. should provide "boots on the ground" troops in the event of an invasion.

About 30 percent of those polled agreed that the U.S. should provide "only diplomatic area pressure," while about 23 percent supported the U.S. providing military advisers if there were an invasion.

Blinken spoke with Ukrainian counterpart before leaving Europe

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart before returning to Washington after his Europe trip.

According to the State Department, Blinken briefed Foreign Minister Kuleba on his meetings with European allies and Russian officials in Berlin and Geneva. He explained that any further aggression from Russia would be met with "a swift, severe, and united response: from the U.S. and its allies.

Blinken reiterated the United States' "unwavering support" for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and emphasized "there would be no decisions about Ukraine, without Ukraine."

Canada offers loan to Ukraine amid Russian destabilization efforts

Canada offered a $120 million loan to Ukraine Friday to help defend itself against Russia.

"Russia is aiming to destabilize Ukraine, including economically," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a news conference. "This loan will help support Ukraine's economic resilience."

He said this is "one of the top things" the Ukrainian government has been asking for from Canada. Trudeau also said Canada is exploring other options to provide means of support to Ukraine.

Trudeau condemned the movement of Russia forces to the Ukraine border, saying "any movement of Russian troops into Ukraine will be absolutely unacceptable and met with a clear response from the international community."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed the offer.

"Canada demonstrates once again the real devotion to the spirit of special partnership between our two countries," he said in a tweet.

Blinken says Russia recent actions contradict its own interests

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia's actions in recent appear to contradict its own security interests.

Blinken said he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov many of Russia's actions in recent years "have precipitated virtually everything you say you want to prevent."

"I asked him, from Russia's perspective, to really try to explain to me how it is they see the actions they've taken as advancing their stated security interests and their broader strategic interests," Blinken said after their meeting Friday.

Blinken notes how Russia's invasion of Ukraine and seizing of Crimea in 2014 tanked Russian favorability ratings in Ukraine and boosted support among Ukrainians to join NATO.

He added that NATO felt an obligation to reinforce its eastern flank after Russian aggression post-2014

"So based on Russia's stated strategic interests and concerns, how have their actions advanced those concerns? On the contrary, it's gone in the opposite direction from what Russia purports to want," he said.

U.S. has no current plan to evacuate Americans in Ukraine

The United States does not know the exact number of American citizens currently living in Ukraine.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that is an "open question around the world."

"We don't put a chip in Americans when they go to countries around the world and track their movements," she said during a press briefing Friday.

She said the State Department would have some idea of the number of citizens in Ukraine based on citizens who chose to register with the U.S. government.

The State Department has already issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Ukraine, urging citizens to avoid travel to the country due to COVID-19 and "increased threats from Russia."

Psaki said there is currently no plan to evacuate American citizens right now.

"We do conduct rigorous contingency planning, as we always do, in the event of any security situation deteriorates in any country around the world," she said.

White House says Biden is open to meeting with Putin

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet again following Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with his Russian counterpart Friday.

Blinken said the presidents may meet again to discuss security concerns and the de-escalation of tensions with Ukraine "if it proves useful and productive."

"I think we're fully prepared to do that," he said.

Blinken said Biden and Putin have spoken on the phone and over videoconference since they last met in Geneva in June.

"If we conclude and the Russians conclude that the best way to resolve things is through a further conversation between them, we're certainly prepared to do that," he added.

During a press briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will meet with Blinken and his security team and consult with allies and partners about the next steps with Russia.

After that, the administration will determine if it is appropriate for Biden to hold another summit with Putin.

"Of course Biden is always open to leader-to-leader engagement," she said.

Russia assures Blinken it has no intension of invading Ukraine

Russian officials have reportedly assured the U.S. and its allies that they do not plan to invade Ukraine.

"We've heard Russian officials say that they have no intention of invading Ukraine," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. "In fact, Minister Lavrov repeated that to me today."

The U.S. is proceeding on the basis of facts and history, Blinken said, and is, therefore, "looking at what is visible to all."

Blinken said Russia's actions will speak louder than its words.

"I suggested to Minister Lavrov that if Russia wants to begin to convince the world that it has no aggressive intent toward Ukraine, a very good place to start would be by de-escalating," he said.

Blinken suggested Russia removing its forces from Ukraine's borders and continue engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Blinken says he and Lavrov have a mutual understanding on each other's position

During his meeting with his Russian counterpart, Secretary Blinken conveyed the message that the U.S. and its allies support Ukraine.

"We stand firmly with Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said during a press briefing after the meeting.

He clarified that if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine's border, that's a renewed invasion.

If that happens, Blinken said Russia will be met with "swift, severe and united response" from the U.S. and its partners and allies.

Blinken assured Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the choice is up to Russia. He said the U.S. is prepared to meet Russian whether it decided to take the path of diplomacy or aggression.

"I believe that Lavrov now has a better understanding of our position and vice versa," he added. "Today's discussion was useful in that sense, and that's precisely why we met."

Blinken calls meeting with Lavrov a 'candid exchange of ideas'

Secretary Blinken called the discussion with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "frank and substantive."

He said the meeting was not a negotiation, but a "candid exchange of ideas" based on reciprocity.

Blinken and Lavrov discussed each of their concerns and laid out several ideas to ease tensions, increase security and build trust.

"The U.S. and its allies and partners are ready to pursue possible means of addressing [Russia's concerns] in a spirit of reciprocity," Blinken said. "Which means Russia must also address our concerns."

After returning to Washington and meeting with President Biden and security officials, Blinken anticipates he will share the concerns and ideas discussed today in writing to Russia next week.

He said the counterparts will continue talks after that and continue down a path of diplomacy. But Blinken added further discussion is "up to Russia."

Blinken says U.S. is committed to diplomacy but is ready for 'swift and severe' action

Ahead of his meeting with Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this is a "critical moment."

This meeting is part of ongoing efforts to de-escalate tensions and prevent further Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Blinken said he speaks on behalf of the U.S. and its partners and allies who share the same "deep concerns about the moment we're in."

"We are –all of us–equally committed to the path of diplomacy and dialogue to try to resolve our differences," he said. "But we're also committed, if that proves impossible and Russia decides to pursue aggression against Ukraine, to a united, swift, and severe response."

Lavrov said he hopes this meeting with achieve greater clarity on the concerns and proposals on both sides.

He added he does not expect concrete answers today and aims to uphold obligations made within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

"I'm referring particularly to the principle of indivisibility of security, as well as the obligation of countries not to strengthen their own security at the expense of security of others," Lavrov said.