WARSAW (AP) — High stakes diplomacy continued Friday to avoid war in Eastern Europe. These urgent efforts are necessary because 100,000 Russian troops are positioned near Ukraine’s borders and the Biden administration fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin might launch an invasion within weeks.
These are some facts about international tensions surrounding Ukraine
Russian diplomat in chief said Friday that Moscow would not launch a war, but it also wouldn’t permit the West to violate its security interests.
After Russia rejected Russia’s demands that NATO not accept Ukraine as a member, and that it reduce its deployments in Eastern Europe, Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, said that there is no room for compromise.
Lavrov stated that, “while they claim they won’t alter their positions,” they wouldn’t change his.
However, he noted that the U.S., in a recent written reply to Russian demands, suggested that the two sides could discuss other important issues. These include restrictions on the use of intermediate-range missiles, military drills restrictions and rules to prevent accidents between warships or aircraft.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin over an hour on Friday. A French official stated that they discussed “the necessity of de-escalation.”
According to the official, who spoke under the usual condition of anonymity, Putin committed to the long-running series of talks between Russia and Ukraine. A new meeting is expected in Berlin in just two weeks.
He did not make any concessions about the tens to thousands of troops encamped on Ukraine’s border and demanded that Kyiv resolve the legal status for pro-Russian separatists in its eastern.
According to the official, the conversation was “serious and respectful.” … Although the conversation was serious due to the fact that the situation was rapidly escalating it was an open dialogue.
RUSSIA SUSPENDS MILITARY INSPECTIONS
Germany regrets Russia’s suspension of mutual military inspections during times of increased tensions.
These are meant to be confidence-building measures for members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry stated that Russia had recently declared it would suspend inspections until February 31st, citing the spreading of the omicron variant.
Christofer Burger, a spokesperson, stated that “Because this an inspection of Russian territory in border region of Ukraine and Belarus, which Russia had previously accepted to,”
He said, “We expressly regretted this step because especially in the current circumstances any which creates greater transparency could help reduce tensions.”
Burger stated that Russia has also cancelled inspections in Germany.
EXPOSING DISINFORMATION HAS IT RISKS
Breaking with the past, the U.S., its allies, and their intelligence findings are increasing revealed. They want to expose Putin’s plans for Ukraine and deflect his attempts to influence world opinion.
In recent weeks, the White House announced that a Russian “false flag” operation was being used to create an excuse for invasion.
Britain accused Ukrainians of plotting to overthrow Zelenskyy by naming them. The U.S. also published a map showing Russian military positions. It explained how officials believe Russia will attack Ukraine with up to 175,000 troops.
However, information disclosure is not without risk. The intelligence assessments have varying degrees and levels of certainty. Beyond showing photos of troop movements, however, the U.S. along with its allies have not provided any other proof. Moscow invokes past intelligence failures of the United States, including false information about Iraq’s weapons program.
WHAT ABOUT GERMAN HOWITZERS!
Steffen Hebestreit, spokesperson for the German government, stated that no decision has been made on Estonia’s request to send artillery guns to Ukraine.
The howitzers were originally owned by Germany, which sold them to Finland who then sold them on to Estonia.
Hebestreit warned Friday against following a “military strategy” amid German demands to deliver the howitzers in Ukraine.
Hebestreit stated, “When push comes to shove that would’t be the real solution either.” “That’s not a game changer right now.”
RUSSIAN GAS WILL STOP FLOWING?
Germany claims Russia is a reliable supplier of natural gas, but it is still prepared for all eventualities.
Steffen Hebestreit, a government spokesperson, made the comment Friday amid fears that Russia might reduce natural gas supplies to Europe.
Hebestreit stated that “in our view, the Russian gas supply agreements are being fulfilled everywhere so we strongly believe this will continue,”
He said, “At the exact same time, it’s obvious that one must prepare for all eventualities. And this is exactly what the German government has done.”
CAN THE USA HELP EUROPE WITH GAS SUPPLIES?
President Joe Biden, and President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen, said that they are working together to ensure that “reliable and inexpensive energy supplies” to EU.
As concerns grow that Russia might cut or stop its gas supply to Europe, their joint declaration is a welcome development.
This issue will likely be the focus of discussions at the U.S.-EU Energy Council meeting on February 7.
Biden and von der Leyen stated that the United States and EU were working together to ensure the continued, sufficient and timely supply to the EU of natural gas from various sources around the world to avoid any supply shocks.
HOW DOES THE UK Boost ITS CYBER DEFENSES?
The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre urges businesses to increase their computer network protection in the midst of the Ukraine crisis.
It stated Friday that it is investigating reports of “malicious cyber attacks” in Ukraine. These attacks are similar to Russian behavior during previous conflicts.
Although authorities don’t know of any threats to the U.K. at this time, the center encourages large organizations to strengthen their online defenses. This center is part GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency.
WHAT ARE THE TENSIONS ABOUT BUSINESS?
Germany’s Foreign Ministry claims it denied permission for a retired diplomat to work at a Russian-owned subsidiary.
A ministry spokesperson said that an internal review had concluded that taking over this role would have adversely affected official interests.
Due to Ukraine tensions, UniCredit, an Italian bank, decided to not pursue a potential takeover bid for Otrkitie Russian bank Otrkitie.
In a Friday media conference, CEO Andrea Orcel stated that UniCredit had done due diligence on an offer but decided to withdraw “given the geopolitical context.”