Britain set to provide Ukraine with additional weapons and loan guarantees

By on February 23, 2022 0

The chances of a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis have dwindled after the United States said a potential summit between President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin was not on the agenda after Moscow’s latest aggression.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, in an expected development, told reporters on February 22 that a proposed meeting between the two leaders was canceled for now following Putin’s decision to recognize two breakaway regions. of Ukraine as independent states and to send troops there.

Psaki did not rule out a possible meeting of the two, but she said Biden would not meet with the Russian president unless Russia defused the situation in Ukraine by withdrawing its troops.

“We are never going to completely close the door on diplomacy,” she told reporters.

However, she added that “diplomacy can only succeed if Russia changes course.”

It came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had canceled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that was scheduled for later this week.

“Now that we see the invasion beginning and Russia has made clear its complete rejection of diplomacy, it doesn’t make sense to go ahead with this meeting at this time,” Blinken said during of a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Washington.

Despite his actions against Ukraine, Putin said on February 23 that his country was always ready to seek “diplomatic solutions” to the crisis, but he added that Russia’s interests were not negotiable.

“The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us,” Putin said in a video address on the Defender of the Fatherland Day.

More Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia, following moves by the United States, European Union and Britain to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine as the world waited nervously Putin’s next step in the tense region.

Australia said on February 23 that it would align itself with the United States and Britain in targeting two Russian banks and imposing travel bans on eight members of Putin’s Security Council.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison – like the US and UK leaders – said the sanctions were the first batch in an arsenal of potential sanctions Australia can use against Russia.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also outlined measures against Russia on Feb. 23, saying his government would ban the new issuance and distribution of Russian government bonds in Japan.

Japan will also ban travel for people linked to Ukraine’s two breakaway regions and freeze their assets in the Asian country, Kishida said.

Live briefing: Ukraine in the crosshairs

Consult the RFE/RL new live briefing on the massive build-up of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and the ongoing diplomacy to prevent a possible invasion. Ukraine in the crosshairs features the latest developments and analysis, updated throughout the day.

The moves come in the wake of Putin’s decision to recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states and send troops there, actions that have been condemned by the West, the United Nations and other countries and organizations.

Despite his actions, Putin said on February 23 that his country was ready to seek “diplomatic solutions” to the current crisis, but he stressed that Russia’s interests were non-negotiable.

“Our country is always open to direct and honest dialogue, seeking diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems,” Putin said in a video address on the Defender of the Fatherland Day.

He added, however, that “the interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are not negotiable for us”.

On February 22, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had canceled a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that was scheduled for later this week.

“Now that we see the invasion beginning and Russia has made clear its complete rejection of diplomacy, it doesn’t make sense to go ahead with this meeting at this time,” Blinken said during of a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Washington.

The West has accused Putin of seeking a pretext for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine after Russia rounded up more than 150,000 troops along the border, often blaming Kiev for violence in the region.

“None of us will be fooled” by Putin’s claims about Ukraine, Biden said in an address to the nation Feb. 22, announcing the “first tranche” of sanctions against Russia for its aggression.

‘This is the start of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ Biden said, referring to Putin’s stated plans to send troops beyond areas of eastern Ukraine that separatists backed by Russia claim to control.

Washington’s measures include blocking sanctions against two Russian banks and sanctions to block Moscow’s access to Western financial institutions.

Britain, the EU and Canada have announced similar sanctions against Moscow, with most saying more serious measures could be put in place if Russia carries out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

In what could be one of the most damaging actions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country was suspending the certification process for the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia in reaction to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Scholz told reporters he had asked to suspend the German regulator’s review process of the $11 billion pipeline designed to bring natural gas to Germany from Russia via the Baltic Sea.

The pipeline has long been opposed by the United States and some European countries who say it would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Washington also said it would cause economic harm to Ukraine, allowing Moscow to reroute gas exports around Ukraine, depriving the country of billions of dollars a year in transit costs.

South Korea said it was consulting with US officials on possible sanctions.

Meanwhile, China – an ally of Russia – said it had never considered sanctions the best way to solve problems.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Beijing hopes relevant parties can resolve their issues through dialogue and remain calm and exercise restraint.

The remarks came after Russia’s upper house of parliament voted unanimously on February 22 to grant Putin’s request to use military force outside the country, a move that has further deepened the crisis with Western countries.

The vote came after Putin sent a letter to the Federation Council asking to formalize a military deployment in areas of eastern Ukraine that Russian-backed separatists claim to control a day after Putin acknowledged their independence.

Putin then laid down the conditions for ending the crisis that threatened to plunge Europe into war. These include Ukraine giving up on its ambition to join NATO and Western countries halting shipments to the country.

With reports from AFP, AP, dpa, BBC and Reuters