Russia's Lavrov urges Putin to allow more time for diplomacy amid Ukraine crisis

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in Moscow, Russia February 10, 2022. Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

MOSCOW, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday suggested to President Vladimir Putin that Moscow continue along the diplomatic path in its efforts to extract security guarantees from the West, as tensions soar over Ukraine.

Lavrov told Putin the United States had put forward concrete proposals on reducing military risks, but said responses from the European Union and NATO military alliance had not been satisfactory.

In a televised exchange, Putin was shown asking Lavrov whether there was a chance of reaching an agreement to address Russia's security concerns, or whether it was just being dragged into tortuous negotiations.

Lavrov replied: "We have already warned more than once that we will not allow endless negotiations on questions that demand a solution today." But as foreign minister, he said, "I must say there are always chances."

He added: "It seems to me that our possibilities are far from exhausted... At this stage, I would suggest continuing and building them up."

The comments appeared to signal a reduced likelihood of imminent Russian military action after repeated warnings from the United States that Russia could attack Ukraine at any time.

Moscow, which has massed more than 100,000 troops near Russia's border with Ukraine, has repeatedly denied any plans to invade, and has accused the United States and its allies of hysteria.

Lavrov said he had received "unsatisfactory" responses to a letter he sent to dozens of European Union and NATO members on the issue of "indivisible security" - a reference to Russia's complaint that Ukraine and Western countries are strengthening their security at Russia's expense and that this is in breach of international agreements.

"I received unsatisfactory answers, none of my fellow ministers responded to my direct message," he said. "Therefore we will continue to seek a concrete reaction from each country."

Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Marrow and Mark Trevelyan Editing by Gareth Jones

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