KIEV – President Joe Biden “in principle” agreed to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin as long as the country will renounce what US officials consider an inevitable attack on Ukraine.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration had made it clear that “we are committed to diplomacy until the invasion begins.” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet in Europe on Thursday until further invasion takes place.
In a statement, Psaki said: “We are always ready for diplomacy. We are also ready to impose swift and serious consequences if Russia chooses war. And now, it seems, Russia is very quickly continuing preparations for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine. “
French President Emmanuel Macron has assisted in mediating potential talks following a day of talks with the two leaders on Sunday.
THIS IS AN UPDATE OF NEWS. The previous history of the AP is given below.
Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russia on Sunday canceled previous promises to withdraw tens of thousands of its troops from Ukraine’s northern border, which, according to US leaders, has brought Russia one step closer to a planned invasion of Ukraine. Residents of the Ukrainian capital filled the gold-bearing cathedral to pray for peace.
Russia’s actions extend the fact that, according to her, the military exercises, which were originally supposed to end on Sunday, as a result of which about 30,000 Russian servicemen arrived in Belarus, Ukraine’s neighbor in the north. They are among at least 150,000 Russian troops currently deployed outside Ukraine, along with tanks, fighter jets, artillery and other military equipment.
The continued deployment of Russian troops in Belarus has raised concerns that they are can be used to assassinate the Ukrainian capitalKiev, a city of about 3 million people, is less than a three-hour drive away.
Life in Kiev outwardly continued as usual for many on a mild winter Sunday, with brunches and church services, before US President Joe Biden said late last week that Russia had already decided to attack.
Ekaterina Spanchak, who fled the eastern Ukrainian region when it was seized by Russia’s allied separatists, was among the faithful who huddled in the capital’s St. Michael’s Monastery, lit by candles lit by believers to pray for Ukraine’s preservation.
“We all love life, and we are all united by our love of life,” said Spanchak, stopping to gather. “We must appreciate it every day. So I think everything will be fine.”
“Our joint prayers will help to avoid this coming tragedy,” said another believer, who called himself by the name of Oleg.
A U.S. official said Sunday that Biden’s claim that Putin had decided to deploy Russian troops in Ukraine was based on intelligence that Russian front-line commanders had been ordered to begin final preparations for the attack. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the delicate intelligence.
For weeks, the United States and many European countries have accused Putin of creating the forces he needs to invade Ukraine, a western-oriented democracy seeking to withdraw from Russia’s orbit, and is now trying to create grounds for an invasion.
Western countries are threatening mass sanctions if Putin does.
U.S. officials on Sunday defended their decision to postpone Russia’s planned financial penalties before any invasion, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday urged the West to do more.
“If you pull the trigger on this deterrent, it no longer exists as a deterrent,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox about the threat of sanctions from Washington.
Russia held nuclear exercises On Saturday, both regular exercises in Belarus and naval exercises near the Black Sea coast continue.
The announcement that Russia was lifting its promise to withdraw its forces from Belarus came after two days of prolonged shelling along the line of contact between Ukrainian soldiers and allied Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, an area of concern to Ukraine and the West that could become a hotbed. inciting conflict.
Biden convened a National Security Council at the White House to build up Russian troops around Ukraine. White House officials did not release immediate details of their approximately two-hour discussion.
“We are talking about the potential of war in Europe“- Vice President Kamala Harris said on Sunday at a security conference in Munich, Germany, during which world leaders held urgent consultations on the crisis. “More than 70 years have passed, and in those 70 years … there has been peace and security.”
European and U.S. officials have insisted that they continue to adhere to what U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has discovered as the latest diplomacy.
Zelensky on Sunday asked for a ceasefire on Twitter. Russia has denied plans to invade, but the Kremlin has not responded to Zelensky’s offer to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
After talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin accused Ukraine – wrongly, according to local observers – of escalating shelling along the line of contact, and NATO – for “pumping modern weapons and ammunition” into Ukraine. The Kremlin’s statement on the ceasefire mentions only in passing and does not mention Zelensky’s call for a meeting.
Macron, the leader of Europe’s peace efforts with Russia, also spoke separately with Zelensky, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson and Biden. Macron’s office said the leaders of Ukraine and Russia had agreed to work on a diplomatic solution “in the coming days and weeks.”
Blinken, the United States chief diplomat, on Sunday renewed his offer to meet face-to-face with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week, provided Putin has not invaded Ukraine by then.
“Until the last minute, he still has the opportunity to retreat,” Blinken told NBC Meet the Press.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a recommendation urging Americans to be more careful in Russia as a whole. “Have evacuation plans that do not depend on US government assistance,” it warns.
Immediate concerns have focused on eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting pro-Russian insurgents since 2014 in a conflict that has killed about 14,000 people.
In Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, separatist leaders ordered full military mobilization and sent more civilians to Russia, which reported 700,000 passports residents of rebel-held areas. Statements that Russian citizens are threatened with extinction can be used to justify hostilities.
Officials in the separatist territories said that Ukrainian forces had made several artillery attacks in the past day and that two civilians had been killed during a failed attack on a village near the Russian border. The Ukrainian military said two soldiers were killed in separatist shelling on Saturday.
“If the tension intensifies as much as possible, as it does now, for example, on the line of contact, then any spark, any unplanned incident or any minor planned provocation can lead to irreparable consequences,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. an interview aired on Russian state television on Sunday.
At the forefront, the Ukrainian military said it had been ordered not to respond. Zakhar Leshushun, looking into the distance through a periscope, watched the news all day from the trench where he is near the city of Golden.
“We are not responding to their fire now because …” the soldier said before being interrupted by the sound of a shell. – Oh! Now they are shooting at us. They are aiming at the command post. “
Heinz reported from Moscow and Miller from Washington. Mstislav Chernov in Golden (Ukraine), Geir Mulson in Berlin, Aamer Madhani in Munich, Ellen Nikmaer, Robert Burns and Darlene Superville in Washington, Ludas Dapkus in Vilnius (Lithuania) and Yuras Karmanov in Kyiv contributed to this story.
Follow the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the AP on https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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