Zelenskyy says Ukraine focused ‘only on peace’: Live News | Ukraine-Russia crisis

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukraine is focusing on “peace” as it prepares its defenses against the strengthening Russian military.

His Wednesday remarks, delivered in the Ukrainian capital alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, came after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the West of trying to provoke Moscow into a war.

In his first comments on the Ukraine crisis in more than a month, Putin also reiterated Russia’s security demands and said it was clear the Kremlin’s “fundamental concerns” had been ignored by Washington and Israel. NATO.

Boris Johnson, who met Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Tuesday, will speak with Putin by phone on Wednesday. But in a sign of growing frustration from Moscow, ahead of the call with the British prime minister, the Kremlin said Russia was ready to speak with the “absolutely confused”.

Here are the latest updates:

US troops to deploy to Eastern Europe in coming days: Reports

The Pentagon is expected to announce shortly that US troops will be sent to Eastern Europe in the coming days after President Joe Biden formally approved additional military deployments to the region, an unnamed US official told Reuters.

Biden has ordered more than 3,000 U.S. troops to deploy to bolster European allies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

About 2,000 American troops will deploy from the United States to Poland and Germany and about 1,000 will reposition from Germany to Romania, the Journal said.

“Every effort must now be made to defuse”

Rutte says he and Zelenskyy agreed that “every effort must now be made to defuse the dangerous situation in which we find ourselves.”

“And I believe, we believe that the only way to a solution is through de-escalation, diplomacy and dialogue,” the Dutch prime minister told reporters.

Further Russian aggression against Ukraine will trigger a “robust” set of Western sanctions, Rutte said, adding that the NATO member Netherlands had offered assistance to Kiev in fending off cyberattacks.

Kyiv focused ‘only on peace’: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president said Kiev was “only focused on peace”, but his country had the right to defend itself if attacked by Russia.

“Our only concern is peace and an end to the occupation of the territory by purely diplomatic means,” he told a press conference alongside Rutte after the couple’s talks, citing the battle of Kiev with separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Zelenskyy added that the weapons delivered to Ukraine by its Western allies were for “defense” only. Moscow has repeatedly sounded the alarm over the arms supplied to its neighbour.

UK stands ‘neck and neck with Ukraine’, PM says

Johnson said his trip to Kyiv was a show of support for Ukraine and its “territorial integrity of Ukraine at a very difficult time.”

“The mission…was to stand with Ukraine, for our country to show that we stand with the Ukrainian people,” he told the UK parliament.

Timeline: Ukraine’s turbulent history since its independence in 1991

Ukraine has faced significant challenges in the decades following its independence from Moscow.

For a timeline of developments, click here.

French FM questions Russian military preparation

There is no indication at this stage that Russia is ready for military action in Ukraine, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

Le Drian’s remarks to France 2 Television came after Zelenskyy last week urged the West not to create “panic” over Russia’s military buildup.

Zelenskyy told reporters that the “destabilizing of the situation inside the country” was the biggest threat to Ukraine and said warnings of an imminent invasion put its economy at risk.

Sweden increases aid to Ukraine

Sweden said it would give Ukraine an additional 50 million Swedish krona ($5.4 million) over three years to support economic development, dialogue and general resilience in the south and east. east of the country.

The money, which is in addition to the 240 million crowns ($26 million) Ukraine already receives each year from Sweden for civil society reform, will go to the Resilient Ukraine Partnership Fund, launched with the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the United States. .

“This fund will help build Ukraine’s resilience,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a statement. “It will be able to respond quickly and flexibly to developing needs that have materialized as a result of Russian aggression since 2014.”

Kiev Mayor Klitschko pledges to ‘defend’ the city if Russia invades

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, a former world heavyweight champion boxer, said he would “defend” the city if Russia invaded Ukraine.

“We have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. We hope that doesn’t happen,” Klitschko told reporters. “But if aggressors come to our country, we have no choice, we must defend our city, our country, our future.”

Open letter from Russian civil society figures denouncing the “war party”

A group of more than 100 prominent Russian activists, authors and scholars have signed an open letter denouncing the “war party” in the Russian government.

The letter, posted on the website of the independent Echo Moscow radio station, did not specifically name any party but warned that Russia “does not need a war with Ukraine and the West”.

He said “no one” was threatening or attacking the country and accused state media of being biased in favor of a belligerent view. The letter added that the idea of ​​a conflict was “immoral, irresponsible and criminal, and cannot be implemented in the name of the Russian peoples”.

United Russia, which is pro-Putin, is Russia’s largest party. The Russian president helped found the party but is not a member.

Kremlin says Putin ready to speak with ‘completely confused’ before Johnson call

The Kremlin said Putin was ready to talk to anyone, including the “completely confused”, ahead of a scheduled call between the Russian leader and Johnson of the UK.

Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday accused Moscow of pointing a gun to Kiev’s head in a bid to induce the West to redraw the security map of post-Cold War Europe.

British diplomacy ‘worthless’ according to Russian official

A senior Russian official at the United Nations has criticized British diplomacy, calling it “absolutely worthless” as tensions between Russia and the West rise.

“There’s always room for diplomacy, but frankly we don’t trust British diplomacy,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Moscow’s deputy ambassador to the UN, told Sky News in an interview.

His remarks came hours before Johnson was scheduled to have a call with Putin. On Tuesday, the British leader said his government had a package of measures, including sanctions, ready to be applied “when the first Russian tip crosses further into Ukrainian territory”.

US and Turkish advisers discuss ‘Russian aggression’

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Ibrahim Kalin, senior adviser to the Turkish president, discussed their commitment to “deterring further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. declaration.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said Kalin told Sullivan that Turkey would provide “all forms of support” to resolving the Ukraine crisis and that Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Kyiv on Thursday would “contribute to solve the problem through diplomacy”.

Ankara offered in November to mediate in the crisis. Turkey is a maritime neighbor of Ukraine and Russia, in the Black Sea, and enjoys good relations with both. He asked them to avoid military conflict and warned Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would be unwise.

Russian ruble nears two-week high against dollar

The ruble strengthened to a nearly two-week high, moving close to 76 against the dollar.

The Russian currency is moving away from a nearly 15-month low at 80.4125 against the greenback hit last week when it was battered by tensions over Ukraine and Western threats to impose new sanctions on Moscow if it made an incursion.

At 09:41 GMT, the ruble was 0.6% stronger against the dollar at 76.32, after touching 76.25, its strongest point since January 20. Meanwhile, it had gained 0.4% against the euro to 86.09, near its highest level in three weeks. .

Russia’s Yamal-Europe gas link shut down

The supply of natural gas between Poland and Germany via the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline has stopped, according to data from German grid operator Gascade, disappointing expectations that it was about to pump gas. gas west for the first time since December.

The Yamal pipeline, which generally flows west in Germany, has been in reverse mode for the past few weeks with supplies east to Poland since Dec. 21.

It was due to return to its normal mode of exporting west after Gazprom booked eight-hour transit capacity, from 21:00 GMT on Tuesday.

But Gascade’s website showed the pipeline was shut down in both directions after about an hour of westerly flow earlier on Wednesday. Gas prices have risen accordingly.

Security fence around the Nord Stream 2 gas receiving station in Lubmin, GermanyThe European Union depends on Russia for around a third of its gas supplies [File: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg]

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