Ukraine hints at concessions to Russia as German leader visits region – Arise News
Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain backtracked on Monday on remarks suggesting Kiev would reconsider its bid to join NATO as Russia masses a huge force within striking distance of its neighbor, but said others concessions could be offered.
The Kremlin said that if Ukraine gave up its aspiration to join the US-European military alliance, it would significantly help address Russia’s concerns, and that President Vladimir Putin would meet with his foreign and defense ministers Monday. Read more
A day after Washington said Russia could now invade Ukraine at any time under an unexpected pretext, the Group of Seven Major Western Economies (G7) has warned Russia of “massive” economic consequences if it does so and has promised prompt support for Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has traveled to Kyiv for talks, which will be followed by a meeting with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday, but a German official said Berlin did not expect concrete results.
A senior Russian military officer, quoted by the Interfax news agency, reportedly said that Russia was ready to open fire on foreign vessels that entered its waters illegally, even if such a decision would have to be approved at “the most high level”.
Moscow denies plans to invade Ukraine and has accused the West of hysteria, but has made it clear that it views Kiev’s quest for closer ties with the West, including over NATO, as a threat.
Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko was originally quoted by the BBC as saying that Ukraine could be “flexible” on this goal, “especially being threatened like this, being blackmailed”.
Later he said he had been misunderstood on NATO – even though Ukraine was ready to make further concessions.
“We are not a member of NATO at the moment and to avoid war we are ready for many concessions and that is what we do in our conversations with the Russians,” Prystaiko told the BBC.
“It has nothing to do with NATO, which (the application for membership) is enshrined in the constitution.”
G7 finance ministers said military aggression by Russia against Ukraine would trigger “economic and financial sanctions that will have massive and immediate consequences for the Russian economy.”
Oil prices hit new highs in seven years on fears that sanctions could disrupt exports from Russia, a major oil producer, in an already tight market.
Russia’s stock index fell to its lowest level in nearly three weeks, and the tension spilled over into major European markets, whose indices fell 1.6% to 3%.
European banks are particularly concerned that Russia will be excluded from the SWIFT global payment system, which would prevent the repayment of Russian debts. Read more
US aircraftmaker Boeing Co sources much of its titanium for airframes from Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA, but said it was confident other suppliers would allow it to weather any supply chain disruptions. Read more
Scholz could receive a cold reception in Kiev, which has long resented the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 project – a gas pipeline that will allow Russia to bypass Ukraine for its gas exports to Germany – and bristled Germany’s refusal to join other NATO partners in selling it arms.
The Kremlin said it expected Putin’s talks with Scholz on Tuesday to focus on Ukraine, security guarantees for Russia and Nord Stream 2, which awaits approval from the European Union.
US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday that an invasion could begin ‘any day’, but US officials said they could not confirm the reports. that US intelligence said it would begin on Wednesday.
Sullivan said the United States would also “defend every square inch of NATO territory…and Russia, we believe, fully understands that message.” Biden told Putin in a phone call on Saturday that any attack would hurt and isolate Moscow.
The Kremlin said Putin told Biden that Washington failed to consider Russia’s key concerns and received no substantive response on key elements of its security demands.
The dollar hit a two-week high as investors sought a safe haven. Russian and Ukrainian bonds fell sharply.
Sanctions could bounce back on Western powers, which rely heavily on Russia for energy supplies, including gas, as well as other raw materials.
Washington views many of the proposals as non-starters but has pushed the Kremlin to discuss them jointly with Washington and its European allies.
Washington and some European countries have reduced or evacuated embassy staff and urged citizens to leave Ukraine. Dutch airline KLM has suspended flights to Ukraine.
Ukraine invoked a treaty on Sunday to demand talks with Russia and members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) within 48 hours to discuss Russia’s military buildup.