In what appeared to be a last-ditch diplomatic gambit brokered with the aid of French President Emmanuel Macron, the White House said President Biden has agreed “in principle” to a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as long as he holds off on launching an assault on Ukraine that US officials warn appears increasingly more likely. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration has been clear that “we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are set to meet on Thursday in Europe—as long as Russia does not send its troops into Ukraine beforehand.
Any Biden-Putin meeting would take place after that, CNN reports, though it notes Psaki did not sound optimistic. “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war," Psaki said in a statement cited by the AP. "And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon.” Russia on Sunday rescinded earlier pledges to pull tens of thousands of its troops back from Ukraine's northern border, a move that US leaders said put Russia another step closer to what they said was the planned invasion of Ukraine. Residents of Ukraine's capital filled a gold-domed cathedral to pray for peace.
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