As war games begin, Putin lauds Russian diplomacy: Live news | Ukraine-Russia crisis News

As Russia and Ukraine began military exercises, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his diplomats and underscored his demand for “legally enforceable security guarantees” from the United States and its NATO allies.

In a statement issued to Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday, Putin said he was confident the department would continue to “do everything possible to strengthen positions on the world stage” while warning of increasing global turbulence and tension.

Putin’s remarks coincided with Russia and Belarus launching joint military drills. The military exercises, which will run until February 20, mark the latest point of contention between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, which has denounced the maneuvers as “psychological pressure”.

Ukraine’s army is conducting drills in the same period in response to the Russian exercises.

The war games come amid heightened diplomatic attempts to avert a feared Russian invasion. Officials from France, Ukraine, Russia and Germany were set to hold four-way talks in Berlin later on Thursday, while the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Liz Truss was in Moscow for talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Russia denies it is planning an attack, but Western nations and Kyiv have been spooked by Moscow’s massing of more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine.

Here are the latest updates:

UK FM says Russia is undermining its international standing, strengthening NATO’s resolve

Truss says Russia’s “aggression and attempts to release the past” are undermining the country’s international standing.

“These acts have actually had the effect of strengthening NATO’s resolve and turning the Ukrainian people further away from Russia,” she told a news conference in Moscow, standing alongside Lavrov.

‘Warning time’ for possible Russian attack decreasing, NATO chief cautions

The number of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is going up and the warning time for a possible attack is shrinking, NATO’s secretary-general has warned.

“This is a dangerous moment for European security,” Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference after a meeting in Brussels with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The number of Russian forces is going up. The warning time for a possible attack is going down, ”he said. “NATO is not a threat to Russia, but we must be prepared for the worst while remaining strongly committed to finding a political solution.”

INTERACTIVE- NATO members in Europe expand eastwards

‘We must draw lines in the snow’: UK PM

Johnson has called for Europe to hold firm over Ukraine’s right to join NATO amid demands from Moscow that its neighbor never be permitted to become a member of the alliance.

“As an alliance we must draw lines in the snow and be clear there are principles upon which we will not compromise,” the British prime minister said. “That includes the security of every NATO ally and the right of every European democracy to aspire to NATO membership.”

Ukraine slams Russian Black Sea naval drills

Ukraine has sharply criticized Russian naval exercises near its southern coast, saying the drills have made navigation in the Black Sea and Azov Sea “virtually impossible”.

In a statement by the foreign ministry, Ukraine said Russia’s actions “show blatant disregard for the rules and principles of international law” and that Kyiv would work together with partner countries to prepare a response.

“Such aggressive actions by the Russian Federation as part of its hybrid war against Ukraine are unacceptable,” the statement said.

Ukraine invasion would be disastrous, UK warns Russia

Truss has again warned Moscow that an invasion of Ukraine would be disastrous for Russia, Ukraine, and Europe, and would carry severe costs.

“Fundamentally, a war in Ukraine would be disastrous for the Russian and Ukrainian people and for European security and together NATO has made it clear that any incursion into Ukraine would have massive consequences and carry severe costs,” the British foreign minister told Lavrov during his visit to the Russian capital.

French FM expresses hope Russia will continue talks

Russia being willing to continue four-way diplomatic talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine would be a positive signal from discussions in Berlin, France’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking to France Inter radio, Jean-Yves Le Drian said the general situation was extremely worrying. He also denounced the joint Russia-Belarus military exercises as “a very violent gesture”.

Putin praises Russian diplomacy, stresses need for security guarantees

Putin has praised Russia’s diplomats for their “duty” in a statement issued to his country’s foreign ministry.

“Our diplomacy helps to defend the legitimate rights of Russian citizens and compatriots abroad, contributes to the settlement of regional conflicts and crises, and most importantly, plays an important role in creating favorable external conditions for the progressive development of the country,” Putin said. .

But, he warned, the world was “becoming more and more turbulent and tense”, in an apparent reference to the East-West standoff over Ukraine.

“This, of course, requires additional persistent efforts to ensure strategic stability and [to] counteract emerging threats and challenges, first of all, by seeking comprehensive, legally enforceable security guarantees for our country from the United States and its NATO allies, ”Putin said.

‘Psychological pressure’: Zelenskyy denounces Russia-Belarus drills

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denounced the war games launched by Russia and Belarus.

“The accumulation of forces at the border is psychological pressure from our neighbors. We see nothing new here, ”Zelenskyy’s office quoted him as telling a group of European business leaders in Kyiv on Wednesday.

“The risks are there and have been there since 2014,” he said in reference to the year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and then backed separatist rebels as they seized swaths of territory in the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Read more about the drills here.

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