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Russia’s foreign minister and his US counterpart have held what they called “frank” talks to try to reduce the chance of a wider conflict in Ukraine.
Sergei Lavrov repeated denials that a huge Russian force assembled near Ukraine’s borders would be used to invade Ukraine.
Antony Blinken said America would respond severely to any invasion.
Pro-Russian rebels control large parts of eastern Ukraine since a ferocious war erupted nearly eight years ago.
Some 14,000 people were killed and at least two million fled their homes before fragile peace agreements were brokered.
The US and its allies have threatened new sanctions if the Russian military takes action.
Newsnight’s David Grossman reports.
Newsnight is the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs TV programme – with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews.