Ukraine resisted Russian demands to abandon its alliance with the West as Moscow sent more troops to the border and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz shuttled between the two countries in an effort to stave off this. Russian military invasion.
The United States has evacuated its diplomats and military advisors from the Ukrainian capital, warning that Russia will take major military action against Ukraine. can come at any time. Russia, which has amassed some 140,000 people along Ukraine’s border, denies it is seeking war but also says it will Never accept Ukraine’s accession to the Western Alliance.
Russian President Vladimir PutinHe, who is due to meet Mr. Schultz in Moscow on Tuesday, noted that there is still room for negotiations. In a televised meeting of top security officials, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested to Mr Putin on Monday that the Kremlin continue negotiations with the West to solve the problem. Tensions over Ukraine.
“It seems to me that our possibilities are not yet exhausted,” Mr. Lavrov told the Russian leader. “I would suggest continuing and intensifying it.”
“Good,” replied Mr. Putin.
Western intelligence officials said Russia now has about 60% of its ground combat force and more than half of its air force on the Ukrainian border, with another 14 Russian tactical battalions on the way. Russia’s potential military strategy is to attack Kiev from the north, overthrow the Ukrainian government and isolate eastern Ukraine, where the country’s best forces are deployed. Those intelligence officials estimated that while the window for diplomacy was quickly closing, Mr. Putin had yet to make a final decision on whether to invade, and that Russian forces could remain on the Ukrainian border for an extended period.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said, on Monday, that he spoke with his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrinin. Russia has sent about 30,000 soldiers to conduct exercises in Belarus, and Ukrainian and Western officials fear these forces can be used to blow In Kiev, not far from the border. “The aim of the dialogue is to reduce tension and prevent escalation,” Reznikov said on Twitter. “I see this as a positive sign.”
Also on Monday, Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, noting that Washington and its allies “are united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including its economic and financial stability.”
While the 2008 NATO summit said Ukraine and Georgia would eventually become members of the Western alliance, they have not started membership talks, and the odds of either country joining soon are low. At a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, Mr. Schulz reiterated that Ukraine’s membership in NATO is not on the agenda.
Mr. Putin has raised the prospect of NATO missiles arriving on Ukrainian soil one day as a red line, as part of his demands to redraw Europe’s security architecture and provide Russia with security guarantees. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday that Ukraine’s formal abandonment of the idea of NATO membership would contribute to addressing Russia’s security concerns, according to Russian news agency TASS.
In Kiev, Mr. Zelensky said that if it were up to him, Ukraine would indeed be a member of NATO. “We will not give up our path to NATO,” he said after talks with Mr. Schulz.
He also repeated requests for heavy weapons to repel any possible attack by Russian forces. While the United States, the United Kingdom, the Baltic states and Poland have sent planes loaded with weapons to Kiev in recent weeks, Germany has refused to supply it with military equipment except for a field hospital and helmets. Berlin has also banned other NATO members from exporting German-made weapons.
“We talked for two hours, and Chancellor Schultz asked that to support Ukraine, not with words but with deeds, can Ukraine finally get heavy weapons?” Mr. Zelensky said. “At the moment in Ukraine, the future of the security architecture of Europe is being decided.”
Mr. Schulz, who has been in office since December, has been pushed to the center of negotiations between the US, Europe and Russia. he follows Visits last week Written by French President Emmanuel Macron. The two countries sponsor the so-called Normandy format for talks on the implementation of the 2015 Minsk-2 agreement on the future of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. The latest round of these talks, in Berlin last week, failed to make any progress.
In a sign that Russia may abandon the Minsk-2 agreement altogether, the Russian parliament is set to meet on Tuesday to consider granting official recognition to the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, the two Russian-controlled states declared in Donbass in 2014. These will allow The move for Russia to openly supply the two republics with advanced weapons, which lay claim to the two-thirds of Donbass controlled by Kiev as their territory. Both the ruling United Russia party and the Communist Party have submitted draft resolutions demanding Mr. Putin recognize the sovereignty of the two republics, according to the speaker of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin. The United Russia project forwards the recognition request to the State Department for evaluation, which frees up more time for diplomacy.
Mr Schulz’s trip comes amid growing anxiety in the West after the US warned over the weekend that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could happen in the middle of the week, a warning that Caused financial markets to swoon on Monday. Oil prices fell on Monday after initially rising on fears that a war in Ukraine could choke Russian crude supplies to the world at a relatively tight time.
The German chancellor’s visit follows a phone call between President Biden and Mr. Putin on Saturday and another call between Mr. Biden and Mr. Zelensky on Sunday.
Mr. Biden told Mr. Zelensky that the United States and its allies would respond quickly to any Russian aggression and warned Mr. Putin that his country would face “quick and severe costs” in the event of an invasion. In comments published on the Kremlin’s website, one of Putin’s aides said the call was requested from Biden as part of what he called a US attempt to stoke hysteria over the invasion.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are non-negotiable for Germany,” Mr. Schulz said at a joint press conference with Mr. Zelensky. “If Russia violates Ukrainian territory again, we will know what to do.”
In Kiev, Mr. Schulz also said that Germany would provide Ukraine with a loan of 150 million euros, equivalent to $170 million, to Ukraine on favorable terms as part of Germany’s long-standing policy of financial support for the country, which Berlin has provided nearly 2 billion euros since 2014. .
—Max Colchester, Ivan Gershkovic, and William Mauldin contributed to this article.
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