The US President Joe Biden has said that he would “in principle” hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
According to the White House, the summit France proposed will not take place if Russia doesn’t invade its neighbor.
Talks could lead to a diplomatic solution to the most severe security crisis in Europe for decades.
US officials claim intelligence indicates Russia is ready for a military operation. Moscow refutes this assertion.
After two telephone calls between President Emmanuel Macron of Russia and Mr Putin that lasted almost three hours, the French presidency announced the proposal.
The second exchange took place in the early hours Monday Moscow time. It followed a 15-minute conversation between Mr Macron and Mr Biden.
The details of the summit will be discussed at a meeting between the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Russia) and Sergei Lavrov (Russia), Mr Macron’s office stated.
The White House stated that Russia was “continuing preparations to launch a full-scale attack on Ukraine very soon” and that the US was prepared to impose “severe consequences” if it did happen.
Maxar, an American company, stated that new satellite imagery revealed multiple new field deployments for armoured equipment and troops from Russian garrisons close to the border with Ukraine. This indicates increased military readiness.
According to the Biden administration, Russia has provided up to 190,000. These troops include separatist forces in Donetsk, Luhansk, and eastern Ukraine.
Mr Putin spoke to Mr Macron in his first phone call. He agreed to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the crisis. According to the French presidency, that “intense” work would be done to facilitate a meeting “in a few hours” with the aim of a ceasefire.
The Kremlin stated that Mr Putin had blamed the Ukrainian military on the increase in tensions. The Kremlin denied this claim by Ukraine, stating that Moscow is engaging in a provocative campaign to create a pretext for intervention.
The French presidency stated that both leaders had agreed to resume negotiations through the Normandy Format. This group was created to end the conflict in Donbas and includes France, Russia, Ukraine and Germany.
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, said that Mr Putin’s promises to Mr Macron were a welcome sign that he might still “engage with finding a diplomatic solution”. Johnson urged Mr Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine’s borders and abandon his threats.
Russia had announced earlier that it would extend military drills in Belarus where 30,000 Russian troops are stationed. These drills were to be completed on Sunday. One reason the Belarusian government extended the exercises was the “deterioration in the situation” of eastern Ukraine.
On CNN, Secretary Blinken stated that “everything that we see suggests that this situation is grave” and that “we’re on the verge of an invasion”.
He said, “Until the tanks actually roll and the planes fly, we will take every opportunity and every moment to see if diplomacy still prevents President Putin from moving this forward.”
He made these comments as unreported reports in the US media indicated that Washington believed an attack could soon be launched.
CBS News reported that the US had intelligence indicating that Russian commanders had been given orders to invade and were making battle plans.
According to the report, an invasion would start with a cyber-attack and be followed by a campaign missile and airstrikes. Before ground units attempt to seize Kyiv,
Unnamed intelligence officer told CNN that close to 75% were currently stationed at the Ukrainian border. According to the source, it was unusual for Russia to have so many troops within striking distance from Ukraine.
However, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov stated that an attack on “tomorrow” or “the day after tomorrow” is unlikely because no Russian “strike group” has yet been formed near the border.
On Sunday, rebels and government forces were accused of each other of violating ceasefires dozens of times. This was just a day after two Ukrainian soldiers were shot to death.
Many thousands of civilians are being evacuated from separatist territories to Russia, while fighting-age men are being mobilised for combat.
The US Embassy in Moscow warned Americans about potential attacks in public places throughout Russia, including at the border with Ukraine. The move was criticised by a spokesperson from Russia’s foreign ministry.
Putin demanded assurances from NATO that Ukraine would not be admitted to the alliance, which is a former Soviet country with close ties to Russia. The Western alliance, however, denies that Ukraine poses any threat to Russia.
It is possible that Russia could launch a military intervention to start another war, possibly even more bloody than the one in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed at least 14,000 lives.