Diplomacy has not eased Russian-American tensions over Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders, but also at the southern Belarusian border, where joint military maneuvers are being prepared in February.
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-► Chronology of today’s events – LIVE UPDATE
-► The German naval chief resigned after demanding “respect” for Vladimir Putin
-► Britain accuses Russia of wanting to install a pro-Russian government in Ukraine
-► Russia has moved troops and weapons from the Far East to the border with Ukraine
The British Foreign Minister accused Russia on Saturday of intending to install a pro-Russian government in Kiev.
But it is not known how Moscow could have achieved such a result without military intervention.
Meanwhile, the United States has sent Ukraine a first tranche of military aid for self-defense, promised in December.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned of a “quick and severe” response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But … not a military response.
US President Joe Biden is meeting with the national security team this weekend to discuss the crisis on Ukraine’s borders, as well as the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chronology of today’s events, Sunday, January 23:
19:50 German Chancellor urges “caution” in imposing sanctions on Russia if it attacks Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday called on the United States and the European Union to reflect carefully when considering sanctions against Russia in the event of its aggression against Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Possible sanctions include blocking the operation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which connects Germany directly to Russia. But such a move would exacerbate Europe’s rising energy crisis.
“Prudence dictates the choice of measures that will have the greatest effect, as opposed to those that would violate mutually agreed principles,” Scholz said in an interview from which the Sueddeutsche Zeitung published excerpts before disseminating them in full.
“At the same time, we must take into account the consequences (sanctions) on us,” the German chancellor added, warning that no one should believe that there is any such measure that would not have a negative effect on Germany.
At the same time, Scholz countered in the interview that the US and the EU could not agree on a set of sanctions against Russia. “In the Allied circle, we agree on possible measures. It’s good. We need to be able to act in an emergency, “he said.
The head of government in Berlin also rejected Russia’s request that NATO pledge that Ukraine would not join the alliance. “Such a guarantee cannot be given,” Scholz said.
His statements in an interview to be published by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung come after the Berlin government has already aroused Ukraine’s dissatisfaction with its ambiguous position on the reaction to a Russian attack on the country, at the border of which about 100,000 Russian soldiers are being massacred. . Meanwhile, Moscow is negotiating with Washington on a number of Russian demands for European security architecture, including a halt to NATO enlargement and the withdrawal of troops from the alliance that joined it after 1997, requests deemed unacceptable by US and Western officials.
In addition to Berlin’s hesitant stance on how to counter the Russian threat to Ukraine, Friday’s statement by German Navy Commander Kay-Achim Schönbach, who has since resigned, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘ “Probably deserves respect” and that the Crimean peninsula “will never return” to Ukraine, and also Germany’s refusal to supply weapons to Ukraine, have provoked virulent reactions from Ukrainian officials.
In a statement to the Welt newspaper, Ukrainian Ambassador to Berlin Andrii Melnik said that the statements of the former commander of the German naval forces illustrate “German arrogance and megalomania,” the DPA reports. Schönbach’s comments, the Ukrainian ambassador added, “put Germany’s international credibility and seriousness on a massive scale, not just from a Ukrainian point of view.”
19:00 French Minister: EU must take the initiative and talk to Russia, not to mention Russian “boot noise” in Ukraine
France is calling for a direct EU dialogue with Russia on security architecture in Europe, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune told AFP on Sunday.
Moscow sent a series of demands to Washington in December, including a halt to NATO enlargement and the withdrawal of troops from the alliance from the states that joined it after 1997, with talks on January 10 so far to no avail.
Russia favors this negotiation with the United States, which displeases the Europeans, among whom different approaches are beginning to emerge regarding a reaction in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine, highlighting especially the hesitant attitude of Germany, whose economy needs of Russian gas.
“We need to have proposals from the European Union (…), a regular, organized dialogue with Russia, while remaining firm,” Clément Beaune told reporters.
In his opinion, Russian President Vladimir Putin prefers dialogue with the United States because “it is reminiscent of the Cold War era and the confrontation of the superpowers” and thus may try to “divide” Europeans.
“What we can do is stay united, as Westerners, as Europeans. Is the European Union enough? Probably not today, ” lamented the French official, whose country holds the six-month presidency of the EU Council.
15:00 Kiev will destroy any pro-Russian group, the presidency assures
Ukraine will continue to dismantle any pro-Russian group, the Ukrainian presidency said on Sunday in response to London’s statement that Moscow is trying to install a puppet leader in Kiev, AFP reports.
“Our state will continue its policy of dismantling any oligarchic and political structure that could act to destabilize Ukraine or be complicit with the Russian occupiers,” said Mihailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration.
In a statement to Reuters, he also said that Britain’s accusations that Russia intends to install a puppet government in Ukraine must be taken seriously and that the West must now act harshly against Moscow.
08.30 am The German naval chief resigned after demanding “respect” for Vladimir Putin
The German Defense Ministry has confirmed that the head of the navy, Kay-Achim Schönbach, has resigned amid the scandal created by his statements.
Specifically, he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin deserves respect, and that the Crimean Peninsula will never belong to Ukraine again.
Britain accuses Russia of setting up a pro-Russian government in Ukraine
Britain on Saturday accused Russia of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kiev and occupy Ukraine, a day after talks between the US and Russia appeared to have outlined some tension.
In a harsh statement, British Foreign Minister Liz Truss denounced “the scale of Russia’s activity aimed at undermining Ukraine.” “Occupy Ukraine,” she told AFP.
The British Foreign Ministry says that “former Ukrainian MP Evgheni Muraev is seen as a potential candidate”, but he is not the only one. Russia’s intelligence services “have links to many former Ukrainian politicians.”
The British diplomacy mentions the names of Sergei Arbuzov (Deputy Prime Minister from 2012 to 2014, then Acting Prime Minister), Andrii Kluev (who led the presidential administration under Viktor Yanukovych), Volodymyr Sivkovich (former Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council and defense of Ukraine) or even Mikola Azarov (Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2010 to 2014).
“Some of them are in contact with Russian intelligence agents currently involved in planning an attack on Ukraine,” London said.
Russia urges London to stop “spreading nonsense”
Russia on Sunday dismissed as “absurd” accusations that London was trying to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, AFP reports.
“We call on the Foreign Office (British Foreign Office) to stop spreading nonsense,” the Russian foreign ministry said on Twitter.
Despite irreconcilable positions for the time being, during talks in Geneva on Friday between Russian and American foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and Antony Blinken, a relaxation between the West and Russia began after several weeks of verbal escalation. The two agreed to continue negotiations next week.
On Thursday, the United States imposed sanctions on four Ukrainians, including two incumbent parliamentarians, accused of collaborating with the Russian Secret Service (FSB), citing “their destabilizing activities” in Ukraine. These include MPs Taras Kozak and Oleg Voloshin, who have been accused of being instructed by the FSB to “recruit former and current government officials to prepare to take control of the Ukrainian government” but also of Volodymyr Sivkovich, quoted in a British diplomatic statement.
Russia has moved troops and weapons from the Far East to the Ukrainian border
Russia’s Defense Ministry has released images of Suhoi fighter jets ready to be sent to Belarus to take part in what the Kremlin has described as “joint military maneuvers” to take place next month.
Russia has also moved troops and equipment from Siberia and the Far East for exercises with its ally, which will take place near Belarus’ southern border with Ukraine, 75 kilometers from Kiev!
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus: “We do not want war. But if they (Western countries and Ukraine) not only constantly bother us, as they do now, but also deploy armies against us, intimidate us and put us on the brink of survival by various sanctions, then we will hit them so hard. that their payment will be hell. He shouldn’t join us. It’s impossible to defeat us. “
Massive forces are also being massaged on Russia’s border with Ukraine. But Moscow keeps repeating that it is not planning an invasion.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “I have not heard anything concrete today to justify the US position on what is happening on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Only worries, worries, worries… ”
Reporter: “Is an invasion possible, as President Biden suggested?”
Sergei Lavrov: “If the US does not put itself in the same bed as Ukraine, I do not think so.”
Following talks in Geneva, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a “quick and severe” response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was still waiting for a written response to its requests for security guarantees.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said: how we perceive them. All of us, including Russia, can show more transparency, we can act to reduce risks, to strengthen arms control, to strengthen mutual trust. “