The weather due to the crisis in Ukraine is still very unstable, but in the midst of many black clouds, some glimpses of light are beginning to bloom. Vladimir Putin gave a signal of détente by allowing the withdrawal of troops from the border to begin and emphasizing that he did not want war, but NATO expressed skepticism about de-escalating a real escalation on the ground. US President Joe Biden also responded with extreme caution, noting that a Russian attack was still a “real possibility.” But it is also trying to widen the gaps for diplomacy. Of course, the Kremlin leader’s willingness to talk about regional security – expressed by the reception of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz – did not make clear what the knot of the most complex game would be: the tug of war over entering Kiev. NATO. For Moscow, this should never happen, but Westerners cannot accept it, at least formally and in writing, as the Kremlin would like. Biden in the evening gave voice to the allies’ skepticism, but also their cautious presence: “The United States is ready, no matter what happens – explained a spokesman from the White House -. An attack on Ukraine is always possible.”
For the president, the United States “has not yet achieved at this point” an effective withdrawal of Russians from the Ukrainian border. But he added: “We are keen to negotiate written agreements with Russia,” to propose “new measures on arms control and transparency.” Diplomacy must be given “every chance of success”. After that, he stressed, “We do not want to destabilize Russia,” and extended his hand to Putin.
In the wake of the US media’s announcement that a Russian invasion is imminent, the Moscow Defense Ministry said earlier this morning that “the units of the southern and western military districts that have completed their tasks” in the border exercises have begun to enter again. the rules. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained the “planned” withdrawal, rejecting widespread warnings as “media terrorism” as a result of “Western hysteria.” As for NATO, “there are no indications on the ground that Russia will reduce the number of its forces on Ukraine’s borders,” said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Which also demanded the withdrawal of heavy machinery and military equipment.
Reinforcing Western suspicions was Kiev’s condemnation of a cyber attack on the Ministry of Defense websites and two public banks. A signal, if confirmed, of a new hybrid attack in the possible direction of Moscow. Meanwhile, the main event took place on the day of negotiations in the Kremlin, a face-to-face between Vladimir Putin and Olaf Schultz. The German chancellor extended her hand, stressing that Europe’s security “cannot be built against Russia but in cooperation with Russia.” Putin expressed his appreciation, explaining that there are “elements” ready to work on, and that “it is clear – as he said – that I do not want war.”
But the points of optimism are all here. As usual, the Russian president flexed his muscles, warning that the talks “cannot be prolonged.” And he did not abandon his sermon against Westerners: “For 30 years they have been telling us that they will not expand NATO towards Russia but this has always happened,” he charged, rejecting the thesis that Ukraine’s accession is not currently on the agenda. “Whether it happens tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, it will be the same for us, the question must be resolved now,” he warned. Schulz responded to the issue with “no negotiation.” To overcome the crisis, the two chancellors remain focused on the implementation of the Minsk agreements, which also provide for greater autonomy for southeastern Ukraine. But from Moscow, there are signs that he risks ruining the table. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, approved Putin’s request to recognize the self-proclaimed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Between the protests of the European Union and NATO. Meanwhile, the Russian and American diplomatic chiefs Lavrov and Blinkin had a new phone conversation, and Biden spoke with Emmanuel Macron about the need to “check” the withdrawal of Russian troops. Italy played its part in an interview between Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio’s mission to Kiev, which is expected to arrive in Moscow on Thursday.
“February 15, 2022 will go down in history as the failure of war propaganda by the West. Shame on you and exterminate yourself without firing a single shot.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, wrote on Telegram after Moscow announced the start of the withdrawal of troops deployed on the border with Ukraine, while the United States planned an offensive for tomorrow, February 16.
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