Ukraine crisis talks move to Moscow and Washington

Scholz added: “We are the closest allies and we are working together intensely, and this is necessary to take the steps we need to take, for example, to fight against Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Macron, meanwhile, called for de-escalation as he began talks with President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. “Dialogue is necessary because it is the only thing that will help, in my opinion, to build a context of security and stability on the European continent,” Macron said, adding that he was ready to “start building a response effective”.

Putin, in turn, hailed France’s role in shaping European security, saying he appreciated Macron’s efforts to help ensure “equal security in Europe” and negotiate a settlement of the crisis. Ukrainian. “I realize that we share our concern about what is happening in Europe in the field of security,” said the Russian leader facing Macron around a long table.

Macron and Poutine then met for hours of one-on-one talks and a meal including fish soup, choice of sturgeon or reindeer with sweet potatoes and pear pie with ice cream. vanilla.

Macron, who travels to Ukraine on Tuesday, spoke by phone Sunday with Biden. Before Putin’s meeting, Macron said: “I don’t believe in spontaneous miracles.”

“The security and sovereignty of Ukraine or any other European state cannot be compromised, while it is also legitimate for Russia to raise the question of its own security,” Macron told the Journal. Sunday, adding that he believed that “the geopolitical objective of Russia today is clearly not Ukraine, but to clarify the rules of cohabitation with NATO and the EU.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sought to temper expectations, saying “the situation is too complex to expect a decisive breakthrough after just one meeting”, and noting that the West has ignored the demands of Moscow security.

Before meeting Biden, Scholz told German media that “there will be a very high price if Ukraine is attacked militarily. And we have been preparing for it very precisely and talking about the details for a long time. Scholz will travel to Kyiv and Moscow on February 14-15.

Prior to the visit, the White House sought to downplay Germany’s refusal to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, bolster its troops in Eastern Europe, or spell out what sanctions it would support against Russia – a cautious stance that drew criticism abroad and in Germany.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki again on Monday pushed back against criticism of Germany that it was not doing enough to support Ukraine.

“The president also noted…that different countries make different contributions,” Psaki said, noting Germany’s significant non-military aid to Ukraine.

PSAKI also reiterated that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany “will not move forward” if Russia further invades Ukraine. But she dodged questions about whether the Germans gave the White House assurances that it would shut down the pipeline which has been completed and is currently awaiting certification from German and European regulators.

Separately, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said her country would add up to 350 troops within days to about 500 who are already part of a NATO battlegroup in Lithuania. “With this, we are strengthening our contribution to the forces on NATO’s eastern flank and sending a very clear signal of unity to our allies,” she said.

Biden has already deployed additional US troops to Poland, Romania and Germany, and a few dozen elite US troops and equipment landed in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine on Sunday, with hundreds more infantry from the 82nd Airborne Division expected to arrive.

Britain said it was sending 350 troops to Poland to bolster NATO forces, joining the 100 Royal Engineers already there.

At a press conference in Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the US and Europe were defending Western warnings of more more serious claims that a Russian invasion might be imminent.

“It’s not alarmism. It’s just the facts,” Blinken said.

Borrell noted that “140,000 soldiers massed on the border must not go to tea”.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was planning a more permanent military presence in southeastern Europe in response to Russia’s “massive military deployment” near Ukraine.

“We are looking at longer-term adjustments to our posture, our presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” Stoltenberg said after talks in Brussels with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “If Russia really wants less NATO near the borders, it gets the opposite.”

Stoltenberg gave no details and said no final decision has been made, but the decision may reflect NATO’s long-term military presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, where about 5,000 soldiers are stationed. He would see a similar force based in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

This would mean that NATO troops would be stationed long-term near Ukraine’s western border and in the Black Sea region. The objective would only be to strengthen the defenses of NATO allies in the region and troops would not cross into Ukraine if Russia invaded.

In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal for eastern Ukraine in an effort to end the conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists that erupted the year precedent following the annexation by Russia of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula.

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Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington, Lorne Cook in Brussels, Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans in Berlin, and Jill Lawless in London contributed.

Sylvie Corbet, Aamer Madhani and Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

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