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Green signal for talks on Ukraine bring hope ahead of feared invasion

Green signal for talks on Ukraine bring hope ahead of feared invasion

Servicemen of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces attend military drills in Zhytomyr Region, Ukraine, Nov. 21, 2021. (Image Credit: Reuters)

Moscow: Russia has signalled that it is willing to keep talking about security guarantees and the Russian Defence Ministry ordered several batches of soldiers back to their bases on Tuesday, although it was unclear where they were posted. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov indicated that Russia was ready to keep talking about the security grievances that have led to the crisis.

The move comes ahead of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz' proposed meeting with Vladimir Putin this week, in what could be one of the most crucial discussions yet in a series of unfruitful diplomatic overtures.

The talks "can't go on indefinitely, but I would suggest to continue and expand them at this stage," Lavrov said, noting that Washington has offered to discuss limits for missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.

Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. Representatives of Western nations like Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau of Poland, a vocal critic of Russia, have made diplomatic overtures and will be in Moscow to talk with Lavrov.

"The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage constructively," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the media. "However, we are clear-eyed about the prospects of that, given the steps Russia is taking on the ground in plain sight."

One possible off-ramp emerged this week: Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, pointed at a possibility of Ukraine shelving its NATO bid "an objective that is written into its constitution" if it would avert war with Russia.

Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that has been monitoring the Russian buildup, reported increased Russian military activity in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia, including the arrival of helicopters, ground-attack aircraft and fighter-bomber jets at forward locations.

The photos taken over a 48-hour period also show ground forces leaving their garrisons and combat units moving into convoy formation.

Still, Ukrainian security and defense council chief Oleksiy Danilov downplayed the threat of invasion but warned of the risk of "internal destabilisation" by unspecified forces.

"We're calm. We're strong. We're together. The country is preparing nonetheless," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday, after calling for the nation's capital Kyiv to be decked in Ukraine's national colours to display solidarity against the threat. Residents have also received locations of bomb shelters via posters and flyers.

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TAGS:DiplomacyInvasionRussiaUkraine border crisis
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