Ukraine-Russia crisis: What to know as diplomacy intensifies

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Nevertheless, the United States announced that it was closing its embassy in Ukraine and moving all remaining staff to a town near the Polish border.

Earlier, the British Prime Minister said Europe was “on the edge of a precipice”, citing a US warning that Russia could invade Ukraine within the next 48 hours.

Here is an overview of what is happening, where and why:

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE FROM RUSSIA?

The Kremlin signaled on Monday that it was ready to continue discussing with the West the security issues that led to the current crisis, raising hopes that Russia would not invade Ukraine within days, as the increasingly fear Western authorities.

In an orchestrated appearance for television cameras, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the possibilities for talks had not been exhausted. It seemed designed to send a message that Putin himself believes hopes for a diplomatic solution have not yet faded.

Lavrov said the talks “cannot go on forever, but I would suggest continuing and expanding them at this stage.” He noted that Washington has offered to discuss limits on missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military exercises and other confidence-building measures. measures.

Asked by Putin whether it makes sense to continue diplomatic efforts, Lavrov replied that the possibilities for talks “are far from exhausted” and he offered to continue negotiations. He said his ministry would not allow the United States and its allies to block key Russian demands.

US officials responded that they were looking for action, not just talk. “If Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments are followed by concrete, tangible signs of de-escalation, we would certainly welcome that,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. “We haven’t seen that yet.”

WHAT IS THE LATEST US ACTION?

The United States announced on Monday that it would close its embassy in Ukraine and move all remaining staff to a town near the Polish border as invasion fears mount. He also repeated warnings to private US citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately.

The State Department announcement follows a decision over the weekend to order the departure of all non-essential diplomats from Kyiv. The embassy will now suspend operations and the property will be guarded by local Ukrainian security guards.

A small number of embassy staff from Kyiv will be transferred to Lviv, where they will provide limited consular services to Americans and maintain open communications with the Ukrainian government, the department said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in Brussels this week, and will also travel to neighboring Poland and Lithuania. Ukraine. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Austin would meet with presidents, defense ministers and other key leaders in Poland and Lithuania, as well as US forces in those countries. Kirby said Austin also plans to have a trilateral meeting with the defense chiefs of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN UKRAINE?

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz brought a message of solidarity to Kyiv, telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are non-negotiable.

Scholz, whose visit preceded a meeting with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, demanded “clear steps to defuse current tensions” from Russia. He thanked the Ukrainian government for its “restrained and restrained reaction to a very serious and threatening situation”.

Scholz noted that NATO and the United States have made proposals to Moscow that Germany supports, “and we now expect a reaction, a response from Russia.” He urged Russia to accept offers of dialogue.

German chancellor says in case of military escalation, ‘we are ready for very significant and effective sanctions in consultation with our allies’ and ‘we know what to do’ if Russia were to violate territorial integrity again from Ukraine.

Zelenskyy called the tensions over his country’s future “an unprecedented challenge for Europe and the world”.

“It is in Ukraine that the future of the European security architecture – of which our state is a part – is being decided today.”

Separately, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine on Monday and again stressed that “there is no alternative to diplomacy” to resolve the dispute over Ukraine.

WHEN COULD RUSSIA ACT?

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Europe was “on the edge of a precipice”, citing a US warning that Russia could invade Ukraine within the next 48 hours.

“But there’s still time for President Putin to take a step back,” Johnson said.

US officials said the Russian military continued its apparent buildup and attack preparations along Ukraine’s borders.

A US defense official said that for several days a small number of Russian ground combat units had been moving from larger staging areas to positions closer to the Ukrainian border, which would be starting points if Putin launched an invasion.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information not made public. CBS News was first to report on the movement of units closer to the border.

Separately, the head of the Swedish military forces said that Russia had “all the necessary capability along the Ukrainian border for a military operation”.

“We are not ruling anything out,” said General Micael Byden, whose country is not a NATO member. “Whether that happens today, Wednesday or in a week, we don’t know.”

WHAT IF THE TALKS ARE NOT SUCCESSFUL?

Poland is preparing to welcome Ukrainian refugees in the event of a new Russian attack on its neighbor. But the Polish government hopes the worst-case scenario can be avoided.

Similar preparations are underway across the region, especially in countries bordering Ukraine.

Poland, which has taken in large numbers of Ukrainian economic migrants in recent years, particularly after Russia’s incursions into Ukraine in 2014, has been planning for weeks to accept refugees should that happen, said Marcin Przydacz, deputy -Minister of Foreign Affairs.

HOW IS THE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT?

Zelenskyy won a landslide victory in 2019. As a political novice making an unlikely bid for the job, he pledged to reach out to Russian-backed rebels in the east who were fighting Ukrainian forces and make progress towards conflict resolution.

But Zelenskyy sees his once huge support dissolving as Ukraine faces fears of a Russian invasion that could not only take the rebel regions, but possibly the rest of the country.

To make matters worse, the incumbent whom Zelenskyy defeated in 2019 has boldly returned to the country to face treason charges and stoke opposition against him. Analysts suggest that Moscow is seeking to build support among pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and that the buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border is partly aimed at destabilizing the country’s politics.

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Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Jill Lawless in London, Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.


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