National News

Ukraine Tensions: Russia Sees Room For Diplomacy

Russia’s EU ambassador said his country still believes diplomacy can help de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine. Vladimir Chizhov said Moscow had no intention of invading anybody, but warned it was important not to provoke Russia into changing its mind.

It comes after a flurry of diplomatic activity on Monday and Tuesday.

Russia has repeatedly denied any plans to invade Ukraine. But with well over 100,000 troops massed near the Ukrainian border, some Western countries including the US have warned that a Russian attack could come at any time.

In 2014 Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula. Since then there has been a long-running conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists control swathes of territory and at least 14,000 people have been killed.

After two days of intense diplomacy led by French President Emmanuel Macron, there is some suggestion that a renewed focus on the so-called Minsk agreements – which sought to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine – could be used as a basis to defuse the current crisis.

Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany backed the accords in 2014-15.

Some diplomats agree that the agreements could offer a route to de-escalation, with France’s ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne, tweeting they should be used to “build a viable political solution”.

President Macron said talks would be revived as early as Thursday and include Russia and Ukraine along with France and Germany – known as the Normandy quartet.

Mr Chizhov did not say whether Russia planned to move troops away from Russia’s border with Ukraine, and instead asked why no-one was talking about the number of Ukrainian soldiers directly facing Russia. But he was clear that further talks could still produce results. “We certainly believe there is still room for diplomacy,” he told the BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler.

BBC

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