Europe has not been so close to war for three decades.
This was a strict assessment given to 57 countries in Vienna on Thursday.
The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, said the Ukrainian crisis was extremely worrying.
Russian and Western diplomats met in three cities this week, but with no signs of progress.
U.S. diplomats say there is a threat of conflict and the drumming of war is getting louder. America rejects Russia’s demands for comprehensive security guarantees.
Russia wants assurances made of cast iron that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO and that Allied forces will be withdrawn from the Eastern European countries that have already joined.
Failed to bridge the gap
America rejected this as unacceptable. A sovereign state has the right to join any organization it chooses, Western diplomats say.
Several hours of talks across Europe have failed to bridge the gap.
Russia’s ambassador to the OSCE, Alexander Lukashenko, told Sky News that NATO is the aggressor.
“The question is what the US, the UK and other members of the Alliance are doing on the territory of Ukraine with military exercises, with very provocative flights and so on.”
Russia has said it will decide after the talks this week whether to pursue diplomacy or not.
All eyes are on Moscow as President Vladimir Putin takes the next step.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that the talks had not been successful.
This was followed by reports that Putin had consulted on military options should no further progress be made.
But other Russian officials say the diplomatic path will continue.
‘Speed gor diplomacy ‘
Ambassador Lukasevic told Sky News: “We will speed up diplomacy.”
Mixed messaging can be tactical.
The naval threat from Russia is “real,” but Ukraine will retaliate, the vice admiral warns
Mr Putin is a past master of confusing his enemies with conflicting signals. He gives the world a guess.
Clearly, a week of intense diplomacy has done nothing to alleviate this crisis.
The talks end as they began – in a stalemate.
This means that the danger of invasion and war remains as real as ever.
We will defend ourselves against Russia “to the last drop of blood,” says the army commander
Analysis: A more conciliatory tone of the Russian ambassador will encourage Western diplomats
Eyewitness: Navy commanders want to avoid provocations with Russia