US-Russia Tensions Over Ukraine: Live Updates
| Local News | News Today
The urgent diplomatic campaign to defuse the military stalemate in Eastern Europe continued on Friday, even as the Pentagon warned that Russia was continuing to muster more combat troops near its borders with Ukraine, and that President Biden reiterated the commitment of the United States to respond forcefully to a Russian attack.
In a Thursday phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden ‘reaffirmed the willingness of the United States and its allies and partners to respond decisively’ should Russia launch a military incursion, a statement said. of the White House. Mr Biden plans to send several thousand US troops, as well as warships and planes, to the region, although officials say he has so far ruled out deploying more forces directly to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader, whose government has sought to project calm in the face of US warnings that a Russian attack is imminent, said he thanked Mr Biden for mobilizing allies to deter aggression from Moscow. But he pointed to prospects for a diplomatic resolution, including an agreement this week with Russia to return to a ceasefire in a long-simmering conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov also signaled an openness to diplomacy, saying on Friday that the US response this week to Russian security demands contained “a kernel of rationality” for a possible compromise on issues. issues such as missile deployments and military security. exercises.
But the Kremlin said it was pessimistic about the prospects for a broader deal, and the United States described a Russian primary demand, that NATO halt expansion in Eastern Europe, as a no -start-up.
The big unknown in the crisis surrounding Ukraine, one of Eastern Europe’s most disturbing military clashes since the end of the Cold War, is the intentions of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who has maintained a studied public silence on the issue for years. more than a month.
While Russian leaders have insisted they have no intention of invading Ukraine, Moscow’s buildup of 130,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders has prompted the United States and allies of NATO to mobilize troops and military assistance for the former Soviet state.
American and European allies have sought to project a unified front, threatening Moscow with harsh economic sanctions in the event of an attack. But diplomatic efforts have continued on several tracks, with some leaders quietly pursuing a more conciliatory approach to Mr Putin in the hope of persuading him to reduce his forces.
On Friday morning, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with Mr Putin as part of an effort to defuse the crisis.
Mr Biden and Mr Putin have not spoken one-on-one since a tense “virtual summit” in early December. The Biden administration convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, which could lead to a face-to-face debate on Ukraine between the United States and Russia.
The White House still believes there is “a real possibility” that Russia could launch an invasion in February, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said, although US officials do not believe Mr Putin decided whether to attack or not.
On Thursday, the Pentagon, which has ordered 8,500 US troops to be on “high alert” for deployment to Eastern Europe, said Russia had continued over the past 24 hours to build up “credible combat forces” in western Russia and Belarus, near the borders with Ukraine.
“We still believe there is time and space for diplomacy,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “But so far he hasn’t achieved the kind of results the international community would like to see.”
Latest News Headlines abc News US-Russia Tensions Over Ukraine: Live Updates