Following a frenetic fresh round of negotiations to avert an all-out war, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden have agreed to meet — but only provided Moscow does not attack Ukraine.
The news: Both presidents have responded ‘yes’, in principle to the meeting, which was requested by French President Emmanuel Macron, according to his office, with the White House confirming Biden’s willingness, albeit cautiously.
What they said: According to AFP, a senior government official said: “The exact time will be chosen. The format will be chosen, thus everything is purely hypothetical.”
- The conference will be open to “relevant stakeholders,” according to the Elysee, and preparations between Russia and the US will begin on Thursday.
What’s going on: The potential breakthrough comes as the US warned of an impending invasion, and Ukraine and Russia accused each other for an increase in firing on the front line separating Kyiv’s soldiers from Moscow-backed rebels.
- Ukrainians have fled to cellars and other safe havens as a result of the shelling, while some civilians have been evacuated.
- “Right now, Russia appears to be preparing for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon,” said US press secretary Jen Psaki.
- Russia has amassed more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, according to Washington and other Western capitals, and is poised to unleash a full-scale invasion.
Moscow has denied any intention of invading its neighbour, but has demanded that Ukraine’s application for NATO membership be permanently rejected, as well as the departure of Western military stationed in eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.