The latest on tensions at the Ukraine-Russia border

By Aditi Sangal, Melissa Mahtani and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:06 p.m. ET, January 21, 2022
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8:49 a.m. ET, January 21, 2022

Blinken: Meeting with Russia was "not a negotiation," but an exchange of concerns and ideas

From CNN's Michael Conte

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) speaks to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not seen) in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 January.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) speaks to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not seen) in Geneva, Switzerland on 21 January. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his meeting today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva was “not a negotiation,” but was instead “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,” said Blinken at a news conference after the meeting.

Blinken said there was “no trade space” when it came to the principle of “the sovereign right of the Ukrainian people to write their own future.”

8:45 a.m. ET, January 21, 2022

Blinken says US is committed to "swift response" to further aggression against Ukraine

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi and Vasco Cotovio

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 21, after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gives a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 21, after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Geneva, Friday that Washington is committed to a "united, swift and severe response" if Moscow commits further aggression against Ukraine.

The two top diplomats ended their hour and a half bilateral meeting Friday, during which the US tried to convince Russia to de-escalate the situation at the Ukrainian border where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops and shown signs of a potential invasion into Ukraine.

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

At a news conference following the meeting with Blinken, Lavrov said that the US had agreed to send written answers to all of Russia's security demands.

Both sides admitted before their talks that neither was expecting a breakthrough on Russia's security demands, which the US and allies have deemed nonstarters.

Blinken reiterated he didn't expect the US and Russia to resolve their differences in the meeting but said he hoped to keep a diplomatic path to addressing those issues open.

"We're committed to walking that path and resolving our differences peacefully," he said.

Blinken's meeting with Lavrov on Friday followed his meetings in Berlin with his German, UK and French counterparts and Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

8:09 a.m. ET, January 21, 2022

Top diplomats from US and Russia meet to discuss escalating tensions on Russia-Ukraine border

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Veronica Stracqualursi

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Geneva on Friday as the Russian threat toward Ukraine continues to loom.

The meeting lasted an hour and a half.

This was the first high-level meeting between Russia and the United States since the diplomatic engagements last week, which failed to deliver breakthroughs on the situation at Ukraine's border where Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops.

After the meeting, the top US diplomat will then travel to Ukraine and Germany to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his foreign counterparts.

8:41 a.m. ET, January 21, 2022

Tensions are high on Ukraine's border with Russia. Here's what you need to know

From CNN's Matthew Chance and Laura Smith-Spark

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Tuesday January 18. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion. 
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on Tuesday January 18. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine in what the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion.  (AP)

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a Russian troop build-up near the two nations' borders spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion.

Ukraine has warned that Russia is trying to destabilize the country ahead of any planned military invasion. Western powers have repeatedly warned Russia against further aggressive moves against Ukraine.

The Kremlin denies it is planning to attack and argues that NATO support for Ukraine — including increased weapons supplies and military training — constitutes a growing threat on Russia's western flank.

The picture is complicated — but here's a breakdown of what we know.

The situation:

The United States and NATO have described the movements and concentrations of troops in and around Ukraine as "unusual."

As many as 100,000 Russian troops have remained amassed at the Ukrainian border, despite warnings from US President Biden and European leaders of serious consequences should Putin move ahead with an invasion. And US intelligence findings in December estimated that Russia could begin a military offensive in Ukraine "as soon as early 2022."

The history:

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia, both former Soviet states, escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union. After the pro-Russian then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the talks — reportedly under pressure from Moscow — weeks of protests in Kyiv erupted into violence.

Then, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, an autonomous peninsula in southern Ukraine with strong Russian loyalties, on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said "there will be a high price to pay for Russia" if it once again invades Ukraine, a NATO partner.

Read all the details here.