A crucial interview. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to discuss the Ukraine crisis with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today
After a written exchange, the two men have indeed planned to speak live this Tuesday, February 1. The day before, the UN Security Council saw heated debates between Russia and the United States about the troops massed by Moscow on the border with Ukraine.
Russia is accused by the West of having invasion plans by massing nearly 100,000 soldiers on the border.
Russia has denied this, but has nevertheless made any de-escalation conditional on a list of demands, which it believes are necessary to guarantee its security, in particular the assurance that Ukraine will never be a member of NATO and that the Alliance withdraws its men from its 1997 positions.
In a letter sent last week, Washington rejected this request while leaving the door open to discussions on other security issues, such as the deployment of missiles or reciprocal limits on military exercises.
During the Security Council meeting, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia accused Washington of seeking to “create hysteria” and “deceive the international community” with its “unfounded accusations”.
Sanctions in preparation
His American counterpart Linda Thomas-Greenfield estimated for his part that the deployment of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers around Ukraine threatened “international security”. Claiming to have “evidence”, she accused Moscow of wanting to deploy more than 30,000 additional soldiers in early February in Belarus, an ally of the Kremlin and neighbor of Ukraine.
At the same time, diplomatic maneuvers continue, as do preparations for sanctions.
Both the United States and the United Kingdom, which is one of the favorite investment grounds of the great Russian fortunes, said on Monday that they wanted to hit the wallet with the first circle of Russian power and those close to the Kremlin.
On the London side, the Russian oligarchs will risk the freezing of their assets in the United Kingdom and the impossibility of entering its territory. It would also be impossible for a company or individual in the UK to transact with them.
“We are not going to retreat and stand at attention while listening to the threats of American sanctions,” replied the Russian embassy in Washington on Tuesday.
military movements as well
The Europeans do not want to be outdone by the diplomatic efforts led by the Americans.
While the heads of American and Russian diplomacy are talking on the phone, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will discuss Tuesday in Kiev with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The British Prime Minister is to propose this week to NATO a deployment of troops to respond to the rise of “Russian hostility” towards Ukraine. The head of the Polish government Mateusz Morawiecki is also expected in Kiev.
In parallel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will meet his Russian counterpart in Moscow, a visit criticized by the Hungarian opposition in view of the tensions around Ukraine.
On the military front, movements also continue. Several Western countries have announced in recent days the dispatch of new contingents to Eastern Europe.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday welcomed the diplomatic and military support for his country in the face of fears of a Russian attack, “the most important” according to him since 2014, the year of the previous Russian offensive against the Ukraine.