(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered a show of U.S. support to Ukraine in meetings with the country’s leaders in Kyiv on Wednesday, as the Biden administration seeks to head off a Russian invasion it says could happen at any moment.

Blinken said diplomacy is still the best option, and that his visit is aimed at showing the depth -- and reliability -- of American backing for Ukraine’s government in the face of Russian threats. He said a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister set for Friday will help the Biden administration determine whether Moscow is bent on war or is willing to negotiate over its concerns and deescalate.

“We need to see where we are and see if there remain opportunities to pursue the diplomacy and pursue the dialog,” Blinken said Wednesday at a news conference in Kyiv alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. 

Blinken, on a three-day tour of Europe, reiterated American solidarity with Ukraine after a day of meetings, including with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.  But he didn’t announce new military support beyond confirming the approval of $200 million in additional defensive security assistance last month. 

With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, Blinken said it still isn’t clear what President Vladimir Putin’s “central demand” to resolving the crisis is. He reiterated the Western view that some of Moscow’s demands -- such as permanently rejecting potential Ukrainian membership in the NATO alliance -- are non-starters and said diplomacy is the preferred path, one that Putin has to decide to stick with. 

Read more: Europe Fears ‘New Normal’ of Nonstop Russia Tensions on Doorstep

“We have made a clear, clear preference for finding a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and to de-escalate the situation,” Blinken told reporters earlier alongside Zelenskiy. 

Both Blinken and Kuleba urged Ukrainians to remain united under the threat from Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and has fueled a proxy conflict in the eastern Donbas region ever since. 

“Russia’s biggest achievement would be to sow panic and distrust in Ukrainian society and destabilize Ukraine from within, first with the economy and finances,” Kuleba said. “We won’t spare any effort in not allowing Russia to achieve these goals literally before any weapons are drawn.”

At the event with Kuleba, Blinken declined to respond to a question about whether the U.S. would ban Russia from the Swift financial transaction system if it invades Ukraine. Instead, the top U.S. diplomat repeated past statements that any sanctions imposed over an attack would be “massive” and have a financial component.

U.S. officials have previously said privately that kicking Russia out of Swift isn’t likely to be on the table because of the pain it would cause ordinary Russians.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed fears that Russia will invade, saying he sees “no risk of a large-scale war,” in remarks at a roundtable hosted by the Valdai discussion club in Moscow. 

‘Wait Endlessly’

While the rounds of talks with the U.S. and its allies last week resulted in “in-depth and fairly productive” discussions, Russia will settle for no less than “iron-clad and legally binding” guarantees in writing, the senior Russian diplomat said. 

“We’re not ready to wait endlessly” for an outcome to these diplomatic efforts, he said. 

Blinken said he won’t present a written U.S. response to Russia at the meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. Blinken heads next to Berlin to meet with officials from the new government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.  

French President Emmanuel Macron also issued a pledge for European unity in tensions with the Kremlin, saying it will push forward a four-way diplomatic project with Germany to scale back violence in the Donbas region with Russian-backed separatists -- known as the “Normandy format.” 

“We’ll continue with Germany in the Normandy format to look for a solution to the conflict in Ukraine,” Macron told European lawmakers in Strasbourg as France begins its six-month rotating presidency of the European Council. “We will make sure that Europe makes its single voice heard.”

But officials continued to warn of a military conflict with Russia in some form. Martin Herem, Estonia’s top military commander, said the Kremlin’s aim was to break western unity and project military strength -- and he anticipated violence. 

“Everything is now moving in that direction, that this will turn into an armed conflict,” Herem said in an interview on public broadcaster Radio 2 on Wednesday. 

James Heappey, a junior U.K. defense minister, echoed that prediction, and went further. The west is “weeks, perhaps even days away” from a military conflict, in which “tens of thousands of people are going to die,” he told BBC television. 

“All of us in the West need to be very clear that the route out of this is through diplomacy, caution and cool heads -- not the absolute horror that could be just days or weeks away,” Heappey said. 

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