The Kremlin signaled on Monday that it is still willing to keep talking with the West about security grievances that led to the current Ukraine crisis, offering hope that Russia might not invade its beleaguered neighbor within days as the U.S. and European allies increasingly fear. But questions remain about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions as countries are evacuating diplomats while remaining on alert for possible imminent war amid the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War.
Moscow, which denies it has any plans to invade Ukraine, wants Western guarantees that NATO won’t allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. It also wants the alliance to halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe, demands flatly rejected by the West. On a last-ditch diplomatic trip, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said there are “no sensible reasons” for the buildup of more than 130,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders to the north, south, and east, and he urged more dialogue.
Despite warnings from Washington, London, and elsewhere that Russian troops could move on Ukraine as soon as Wednesday, Monday’s meeting between Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested otherwise. At the session with Putin, Lavrov argued that Moscow should hold more talks with the U.S. and its allies despite their refusal to consider Russia’s main security demands.
If #Russia attacks #Ukraine, standby for the deniers and “blame America” crowd like @TuckerCarlson to claim that somehow our preparation forced Russia to attack. Not the 140,000 troop buildup of Russia.
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) February 14, 2022
Britain’s prime minister said Europe is “on the edge of a precipice” — but added, “there is still time for President Putin to step back.” France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French television that “all elements” were in place for Russian forces to conduct a “strong offensive,” but “nothing shows today” that Putin has decided to launch one.
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) December 7, 2021
In a phone call on Sunday, President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to keep pushing both deterrence and diplomacy. Zelenskyy’s office also quoted him suggesting a quick Biden visit would help — a possibility that was not mentioned in the White House summary of the call. Such a visit would be unlikely as the U.S. is now operating with a skeleton diplomatic staff in the capital, Kyiv.
Russia/Ukraine: An Analogy. pic.twitter.com/pAnnpbq6gLSee Also
— PoliticsGirl (@IAmPoliticsGirl) February 14, 2022
President Biden spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, according to a Downing Street statement. The two world leaders “agreed there remained a crucial window for diplomacy and for Russia to step back from its threats towards Ukraine.”
I spoke today with transatlantic leaders to discuss our concerns about Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine. We are united in our diplomatic efforts and deterrence measures and are ready to impose massive economic costs if Russia chooses further aggression. pic.twitter.com/AC9FrTS9qN
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 11, 2022