Ukraine calls for meeting with Russia as US warns of impending invasion

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in Moscow, Russia on February 10, 2022.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Reuters

The Russian foreign minister has reportedly suggested to President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would use diplomacy to obtain concessions from the West, after US officials warned that a Russian attack on Ukraine could happen “any day”.

Reuters reported on Monday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had told Putin that the Kremlin must seek a diplomatic route to obtain the security guarantees it has demanded as tensions mount over its military activities on the Ukrainian border.

Russia has demanded that Ukraine should never be allowed to join NATO, and has said it wants the organization to roll back its presence in Eastern Europe.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that a Russian attack on Ukraine could happen “any day.” “That also applies to the coming week,” he said.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan makes a statement on the situation in Afghanistan during a press conference at the White House in Washington, Aug. 23, 2021.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Security officials in Washington, London and Ukraine told Politico on Friday that US intelligence officers had informed allies last week that the invasion could begin on Wednesday, February 16. However, Sullivan said on Sunday that officials “cannot predict the day perfectly”.

On Sunday evening, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had not responded to a request made by Ukraine under the Vienna Document — a treaty signed by 56 member states aimed at maintaining military transparency across Europe. – for a meeting.

“That’s why we’re taking the next step,” says Kuleba. said in a statement† “We request a meeting with Russia and all participating states within 48 hours to discuss reinforcement and redeployment along our border and in the temporarily occupied Crimea.”

An estimated 30,000 Russian troops are currently engaged in a 10-day program of military exercises with neighboring Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine.

The exercises, widely seen by Russia as a sign of strength, come as more than 100,000 soldiers, tanks, missiles and even fresh blood supplies have been moved to Russia’s border with Ukraine.

Moscow insists it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

Ukrainians panic

The Russian Navy’s Rostov-on-Don diesel-electric submarine sails into the Bosphorus on February 13, 2022, en route to the Black Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Yorok Isik | Reuters

Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, a peninsula in southern Ukraine, in 2014.

Speaking to Slice Mag’s Silvia Amaro on Monday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, said there was information suggesting a Russian invasion was possible on Wednesday.

“This was made public specifically to tell the aggressor that we are aware of the plans, and if they don’t happen, it could be because the public already knew they were plotting something,” he said.

He added, however, that there was also information implying alternative invasion timetables.

“But regardless of the information, the problem is that Ukrainians are panicking,” Prystaiko said. “Airlines cancel flights, money is withdrawn by investors. Ukrainians feel they have been let down.”

Prystaiko said the Ukrainian government had not yet received a response from Moscow to its request for a meeting.

“But that’s not the only way we’re trying to get understanding with Russia,” he said. “We have our own negotiations — it’s not like we rely on what the West is doing for us, we’re doing our part.”

He added that Ukraine was in a “very difficult” and “very unfair” situation, noting that the country was still living on the concessions it made under the Vienna document after Russia annexed Crimea. .

“But We’re Still” [using the processes of] the same document to try to find a way to diplomatically defuse the situation,” he said. “It’s not just this [situation]† We’ve been at war for seven years.”

Diplomatic efforts continue

President Biden spoke to President Vladimir Putin today to make it clear that if Russia continues to invade Ukraine, the US and our allies will impose swift and serious charges on Russia.

Courtesy: The White House

It came after a phone call between Biden and Putin on Saturday, in which Biden reiterated that the US and its allies and partners would “respond decisively and impose swift and serious charges on Russia”.

Biden told Putin that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause “widespread human suffering” and “decrease Russia’s reputation,” the White House said in a statement, with the US president adding that although the US and its allies were willing to engage in diplomacy they were also “equally prepared for other scenarios.”

US allies, including the UK and France, have also been in talks with Russian ministers in recent weeks to resolve tensions diplomatically.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned last week that Europe is “on the brink of an abyss”, adding that “things are just as dangerous as I’ve seen them in Europe for a very, very long time”.

On Monday, the finance ministers of the G-7 countries – made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – issued a statement pledging financial support to Ukraine, pledging “joint economic and impose financial sanctions that will have major and immediate consequences for the Russian economy” should Moscow engage in further military aggression against Ukraine.

Bob Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN last month that the committee was devising the “mother of all sanctions” against Russia that would “cripple their economy” as a method of defending Ukraine.

German ministers have also said Russia will face “huge” economic consequences if it acts aggressively against Ukraine, and British lawmakers have publicly taken the same stance.

Although some western countries have sent military hardware to Ukraine, the German government has refused to send weapons to the country. Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kiev on Monday to meet Zelenskyy, and on Tuesday he will meet Putin in Moscow.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish President Andrzej Duda attend a press conference ahead of a Weimar Triangle meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, February 8, 2022.

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

Scholz reiterated on Sunday that a Russian attack on Ukraine would lead to “harsh responses and sanctions that we have carefully prepared and can implement immediately,” Reuters reported.

Berlin did not expect “concrete results” from the talks, according to the news agency, but Scholz would emphasize that the Kremlin “shouldn’t underestimate the unity between the European Union, the United States and Great Britain”.

Jan Friedrich Kallmorgen, founder and managing partner of Berlin Global Advisors, told Slice Mag’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday that it made strategic sense for Biden to lead the diplomatic effort.

“Putin does not take international organizations like the… [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] or the EU so serious, he likes to talk bilaterally, he likes to be in the spotlight, he likes [French President Emmanuel] Macron and Scholz visit him, and the big prize, of course, is the United States,” Kallmorgen said.

He added that the crisis was likely to lead to a “remarkable shift” toward more robust foreign policies in Germany and other Western countries, which would likely mean greater commitments to NATO.

“Putin deserves a transatlantic award for bringing” [the West] closer than ever since 1999,” he told Slice Mag.

“There’s a very clear determination, we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. I think there’s a very coordinated, very robust response, that’s the sanctions, which I think are credible, and there’s also a willingness to increase the NATO presence in NATO countries as needed.”

US ends presence in Ukraine

Some airlines have reportedly canceled or diverted flights to Ukraine as tensions continue to mount.

On Saturday, the Pentagon ordered all US troops in Ukraine to leave the country and relocate elsewhere in Europe.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a news conference in Melbourne, Australia on Friday that the government continued to “revoke” its embassy in Ukraine, adding that “an invasion could begin any time.”