Police took no action on text messages from Manchester suicide bomber in contact with Daesh, inquest finds
MOSCOW: The Kremlin and the West have raised the possibility of a diplomatic way out of the Ukraine crisis, even as Russia appeared to be continuing preparations for a possible invasion, including bringing troops and military equipment closer to its neighbor.
In a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled on Monday that Russia was ready to continue talking about the security issues that led to the crisis.
The comments seemed intended to send a message to the world about Putin’s own position and offered some hope that war could be avoided, even as Washington, London and other allies maintained their warnings that troops could move on the Ukraine from Wednesday.
The fears stem from the fact that Russia has massed more than 130,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders to the north, south and east. He has also launched massive military drills in Belarus, an ally that also borders Ukraine.
Russia denies plans to invade Ukraine, and Lavrov has argued that Moscow should hold more talks, despite the West’s refusal to heed Russia’s key demands.
The talks “cannot go on forever, but I would suggest continuing and expanding them at this stage,” Lavrov said, noting that Washington has offered to discuss limits on missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military exercises and other confidence-building measures. measures.
Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to become members. He also wants the alliance to stop arms deployments in Ukraine and withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe.
Lavrov said the possibilities for talks “are far from exhausted”.
Putin noted that the West might try to drag Russia into “endless talks” and wondered if there was still a chance of reaching an agreement. Lavrov replied that his ministry would not allow the United States and its allies to block major Russian demands.
The United States reacted coldly.
“The path of diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, senior deputy White House press secretary. “However, we are lucid about the prospects of this, given the steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight.”
US officials said the Russian military was apparently continuing its attack preparations along Ukraine’s borders. A US defense official said a small number of Russian ground units had been leaving larger staging areas for several days, taking up positions closer to the Ukrainian border at what would be jumping off points if Putin launched a invasion.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information not made public. CBS News was the first to report on the movement of the units.
Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that monitors Russia’s buildup, reported an increase in Russian military activity in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia, including the arrival of helicopters, ground attack aircraft and fighter-bombers at forward positions. Photos taken over a 48-hour period also show ground forces leaving their garrisons and combat units moving in convoy formation.
Still, the head of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, downplayed the threat of invasion but warned of the risk of “internal destabilization” by unspecified forces.
“Today we do not believe that a large-scale offensive by the Russian Federation could take place on 16 or 17 (February),” he told reporters. “We are aware of the risks that exist on the territory of our country. But the situation is absolutely under control.
As if to show defiance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared Wednesday to be a “day of national unity”, calling on the country to fly the blue and yellow flag and sing the national anthem in the face of “hybrid threats”.
“This is not the first threat the strong people of Ukraine have faced,” Zelenskyy said Monday evening in a video address to the nation. ” We are calm. We are strong. We are together.”
The country is nevertheless preparing. Kyiv residents received letters from the mayor urging them to “defend your city” and signs appeared in apartment buildings pointing to the nearest air-raid shelter. The capital has around 4,500 such sites, including underground car parks, metro stations and basements, the mayor said.
Dr. Tamara Ugrich said she stocked up on cereals and canned goods and packed an emergency suitcase.
“I don’t believe in war, but on TV the tension is mounting every day and it’s getting harder and harder to keep calm,” she said. “The more we are told not to panic, the more nervous people become.”
In a last ditch diplomatic effort, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has planned to travel to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Putin.
A possible exit ramp emerged this week. Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has raised the possibility that Ukraine will suspend its NATO candidacy – a goal enshrined in its constitution – if it avoids war with Russia.
Prystaiko later seemed to walk away from the idea, but the fact that it was brought up suggests it is being discussed behind closed doors.