For the second day on Tuesday, there were signs of hope that Europe might avoid war following weeks of escalating East-West tensions as Moscow massed around 150,000 troops on three sides of Ukraine and held massive military drills.
All signs suggest Russia is about to invade: Blinken; Putin and Macron agree on need for a diplomatic solution in eastern Ukraine; Russia plans biggest war in Europe since 1945: British PM Boris Johnson; President Zelensky calls for immediate truce.
Both leaders have said yes in principle to the summit, proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said, with the White House confirming Biden's willingness, though it was notably cautious.
Putin said the first Moscow summit he has held with a Western leader since the Kremlin began massing troops near its neighbor had been substantive, but also repeated warnings about the threat of war were Ukraine to join NATO.
Lavrov and Blinken spoke on Tuesday and reiterated positions put forward by Putin and President Joe Biden. The White House said Biden and Putin could also speak once the US receives Russia’s response.
On a surprise trip to Sevastopol, the main port of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, Putin visited an art school with local governor Mikhail Razugayev, according to images broadcast by Russia-1 TV.
In a televised meeting with Putin in the Kremlin, Assad said Russia was fighting neo-Nazis and "old Nazis" in Ukraine, according to a Russian translation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met his "dear friend" Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, seeking both to deepen economic ties with an ally he sees as a useful counterweight to the West and to promote Beijing's role as a potential peacemaker in Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.