Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin holds meeting with national security officials

ImageRussian President Vladimir V. Putin chaired a meeting with Security Council members via a video link last week in Moscow.
Credit…Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, via Reuters

MOSCOW – Russian President Putin will hold an unscheduled meeting of his Security Council on Monday, the Kremlin said, claiming that “tensions are growing” over warnings from the United States that the nation His willingness to attack Ukraine, quickly and without provocation, became more and more catastrophic.

Putin held a second phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron at 1 a.m. Moscow time on Monday morning, after speaking with the French leader on Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters.

The French president said Mr. Macron had proposed a summit between Presidents Biden and Putin, but Mr. Peskov did not confirm that preparations for such a meeting had begun.

“It is clear that tensions are increasing,” Peskov said. “It’s too early to talk about concrete plans to hold any summit.”

At Monday’s extraordinary meeting of the Security Council, Putin gave a speech about the tensions.

“We have to decide together what we will do next and how we must act in the situation that emerges today,” Putin said.

Putin said the meeting would also consider next steps related to his demands for “security guarantees” from the West, such as NATO’s withdrawal of NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe and legally binding commitments bar Ukraine from joining the union.

“For us, this is the number one task,” Putin said. “Securing the security and conditions for our country’s development is a priority.”

The meeting, which comes a day after Mr Macron’s latest major round of diplomacy, appeared to offer some fresh hope for a peaceful resolution of Ukraine as White House officials said Mr Biden would be willing to see consider direct negotiations with him. Partner Russia as long as Russia does not invade.

Although he did not confirm plans to hold the summit, Peskov noted that Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov plans to meet with Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken this week and that he may also speak with his French counterpart.

White House officials said a possible summit between Mr Biden and Mr Putin would only be held after a meeting between the two countries’ top diplomats, scheduled for the weekend. this.

A senior White House official said there were no plans for the form or timing of a meeting between the two leaders. Another official called it all fictitious and said that all evidence suggests Russia still intends to invade Ukraine in the coming days. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

Lavrov also appeared uncertain about the diplomatic outlook. “We are not opposed to summits, we are not opposed to meetings,” he said at a news conference in Moscow on Monday. “But before we meet, especially in such a heated atmosphere, it’s important to understand how these summits and meetings will end.”

In a statement from the White House, Jen Psaki, the press secretary, said that Mr Biden accepted the idea of ​​negotiating with Mr Putin “in principle” and said the US remained committed to pursuing diplomacy “until the end.” the moment an invasion begins.”

“We are also prepared to impose swift and severe consequences if Russia chooses war instead,” she wrote in the statement. “And now, Russia seems to be continuing to prepare for a full-scale attack on Ukraine at the earliest.”

Mr. Putin said last week that Ukrainian forces were carrying out a “genocide” of Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine, a false claim that Western officials see as an attempt to set up a situation. for military intervention. Russian state television broadcasts baseless claims that Ukraine is preparing an offensive against Russian-backed breakaway territories in the east of the country, and shows residents fleeing to Russia. , note that “children are particularly distressed.”

On Monday, public opinion about the impending war became even greater, when Russian media reported the separatists’ claims of an escalating attack by Ukrainian forces. Russian state television reported that from the separatist-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine had bombarded communications systems, bridges, water purification stations and other key infrastructure targets, and sent military personnel. vandals behind the separatist front lines.

Russian television showed the ruins of a green-walled tent, describing it as a Russian border post hit by Ukrainian artillery. A Russian state TV reporter says Ukraine’s aggression is being supported by NATO surveillance planes.

According to Interfax news agency, the separatists now need military support from Russia, a separatist spokesman said in an interview with a Russian journalist on YouTube.

Ukrainian officials insist their military is not preparing an attack against the breakaway republic, and say the separatists are shelling their territory.

“I stress once again that the Ukrainian military is not planning any offensive action. Nowhere,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said at a news conference on Monday. “We support the return of our people and territory through political and diplomatic means.”

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/21/world/ukraine-russia-putin-biden Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin holds meeting with national security officials

Fry Electronics Team

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