Ukraine news - live: 8,500 troops ready to deploy as US threatens to shut down Nord Stream 2

·35-min read

The Kremlin has said that the US response to Russia’s demands it says will improve security in Europe have left “little ground for optimism” in resolving tensions over Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, however added that “there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue, it’s in the interests of both us and the Americans.”

Peskov said the Russian reaction would come soon.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US announcement could lead to “the start of a serious talk on secondary issues,” but emphasised that “the document contains no positive response on the main issue.”

Kremlin officials will offer proposals to Putin, Lavrov concluded.

The incident comes at a time the tensions between Russia and Ukraine are simmering ahead of what the West says is a push for a potential takeover of more parts of Ukraine.

Russia has deployed tens of thousands of its troops along the border with Ukraine, even as president Vladimir Putin and his administration have underlined that they have no such plans of takeover.

Key Points

  • Five killed after Ukranian soldier fires at a military factory

  • US citizens advised to leave Ukraine

  • Threat against Ukraine is ‘threat against Europe'

  • Germany sending 5,000 helmets to Ukraine branded ‘a joke'

  • German chancellor warns of 'grave consequences' if Russia invades

  • US threatens future of Nord Stream 2 should invasion occur

Ukraine disagrees with Biden assessment

00:00 , John Bowden

BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that sources in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the dire warning that Joe Biden issued to Mr Zelesnky about an imminent Russian invasion, but disagreed with his assessment of the situation.

Mr Zelensky’s call with Mr Biden on Thursday comes as the US issued a new threat to end Russia’s efforts to construct a natural gas pipeline to the European Union should an invasion occur.

US is asking China to persuade Russia against war, State Department says

23:30 , John Bowden

A senior State Department official said on Thursday that the US was urging Chinese officials to use the influence they have in Moscow to urge Russia’s government against war with Ukraine.

"We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either," said Heather Nuland, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. "There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere."

She made the comments on Thursday at a State Department news briefing.

Ukraine warns west: No concessions without our input

22:56 , John Bowden

Ukraine’s foreign minister warned pointedly on Tuesday that his country would not accept any demands unilaterally imposed by US, European or Russian negotiators and would instead insist on having a seat at the table when determining the destiny of its territories.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s government "will not allow anyone to impose any concessions on us", his top foreign official told CNN.

"We paid a lot -- including 15,000 lives of our citizens -- to secure the right to decide our own future, our own destiny," said Dmytro Kuleba.

Biden warned Ukraine’s president Kiev could be ‘sacked'

22:12 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden portrayed a Russian invasion as a near-certainty on a call with Ukraine’s president on Thursday, according to a top Ukrainian official.

The unnamed official in Ukraine’s government told CNN that Mr Biden warned that Russian forces may occupy Ukraine’s capital, Kyev, which the US president said could be “sacked”.

Ukraine should “prepare for impact” was Mr Biden’s advice, according to the official, who said that the US president reiterated that the US would not be sending significantly more aid to the country in the days ahead and would not use US troops to defend Ukraine’s territory.

A readout of the call released by the White House made no mention of the above prediction by the president.

Kirby: 8,500 US troops ready to deploy to Europe

21:10 , John Bowden

The Pentagon’s chief spokesman said on Thursday that thousands of US troops were now on standby for deployment to Europe in the event of a Russian incursion, a move meant to reassure NATO allies in the region.

The troops are not meant for a defence of Ukraine, but rather to shore up NATO defensive positions around Eastern and Central Europe in the event of Russia moving closer to the doorstep of the alliance’s members.

Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision “increases our readiness to provide forces if NATO activates the [NATO response force],” said Mr Kirby, who added that additional assets would be deployed to the region in the event of a “deteriorating security situation”.

“No decisions have been made to deploy any troops from the United States at this time,” Mr Kirby cautioned reporters, adding that “no mission” had yet been assigned to the troops involved.

Pentagon: Diplomacy has not achieved results that ‘we would like to see'

20:49 , John Bowden

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby updated reporters on the ongoing status of negotiations between the US and Russia on Thursday as the US military and those of its NATO allies openly prepare for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While the US has not pledged ground troops to Ukraine’s aid in the event of an invasion, any incursion would still occur on the doorstep of several NATO countries.

"We still believe there is time and space for diplomacy but thus far it has not achieved the kind of results that the international community would like to see,” said Mr Kirby at a press briefing.

Zelensky expected to ask Biden to tone down rhetoric

20:00 , John Bowden

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is set to speak with Joe Biden later on Thursday as Russia’s troop buildup near his country’s borders continues.

During the call, the Ukrainian president is expected to ask his US counterpart to tone down his language regarding the likelihood of a Russian attack, and to specifically refrain from suggesting that one is “imminent”, CNN reported on Thursday afternoon.

CNN host attacks Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s Russia comments

19:45 , John Bowden

CNN’s Jim Acosta sharply criticised Fox News on his show on Wednesday for “allowing one its top-rated hosts to spew pro-Putin propaganda”.

His remarks came after a Democratic congressman tweeted that his office was inundated with calls from Mr Carlson’s viewers “siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine.

Watch below, from CNN:

China warns against NATO expansion amid Ukraine tensions

19:15 , John Bowden

China’s foreign ministry appears to be siding with Moscow as its neighbour to the north continues to buildup troops in eastern Europe and faces accusations of a plan to invade Ukraine.

Wang Yi, Beijing’s foreign minister, warned on Thursday at his daily press briefing against the expansion of military blocs, clearly referring to Ukraine’s desire to join the US-backed NATO alliance.

“Regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs,” he said, according to the agency.

Russian foreign ministry official accuses US of wanting to move missiles near territory

18:52 , John Bowden

A Russian official laid out Moscow’s fears of the US-backed military presence across Europe on Thursday, explaining that Washington and Russian leaders must come to an accord on the deployment of weapons systems in eastern Europe.

Ukraine’s desire to join NATO is commonly seen as on of the main reasons for the tensions which in recent months have led to the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine’s border.

"We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new ‘missile crises’ are unavoidable," Vladimir Ermakov said on Thursday.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, meanwhile, said that recent developments indicated that diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation appeared to be continuing for at least the next several weeks.

Rory Sullivan has the latest developments from Russia and Ukraine:

‘Not just about Ukraine’: Why Romania is one of Kiev’s strongest supporters in Russia dispute

18:15 , John Bowden

Romania’s president reiterated support for Kiev on Wednesday, calling the issue of Russian aggression a threat to the entire European bloc.

President Klaus Iohannis said in a statement that his country, which is a part of NATO and shared a northern border with Ukraine, must be “prepared for any possible scenario” in the days ahead, including a major Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory.

“The crisis is not just about Ukraine, security on the Black Sea, or European security, but about the security of the Euro-Atlantic area,” said Mr Iohannis.

Borzou Daragahi has the story about why Ukraine’s neighbours are worried about Russia’s plans:

Why Romania is one of Kiev’s strongest supporters in Russia dispute

Biden ignores shouted questions on Ukraine at Breyer event

17:52 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden declined to take questions at his event on Thursday announcing the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer from the Supreme Court, declaring that it would be “inappropriate” to do so while the still-sitting justice was in the room.

As he left the event just before 1:00 p.m. at the White House, he ignored questions from reporters about whether he believed a peaceful solution to tension in Ukraine was still possible.

State Department says Nord Stream 2 is dead if Russia invades Ukraine

17:14 , John Bowden

State Department spokesman Ned Price vowed that the US would work with Germany to end Russia’s efforts to construct the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would carry natural gas harvested by the Russian Federation into the European Union, should Russian forces invade Ukraine in the coming days.

The threat is some of the Biden administration’s most explicit language about consequences it will seek to impose on Russia’s government should an incursion of Ukraine occur; for weeks the US has vowed tough economic sanctions and unspecified other measures in the event of an invasion, but stopped short of promising Ukraine direct military aid.

"I want to be very clear: If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward," Mr Price told NPR on Wednesday.

He added: "I'm not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward."

Deadly attack by soldier fuels conspiracy theories in nervy Ukraine

16:16 , John Bowden

The shooting at the Makarov Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro was shocking and lethal. A young conscript had suddenly opened fire with his army issue AK-47 rifle, killing five soldiers and injuring five others.

The gunman, 21-year-old Artem Ryabchuk, fled. He was arrested a few hours later. The motives for his actions were not clear, say the authorities. Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, announced that investigators would examine how the conscript passed a medical commission allowing him access to weapons.

But there was immediate traffic on social media from people who had apparently seen “proof” that the young man was a Russian agent. Some asserted that this was the first mission in a murder campaign which will follow.

That kind of reaction in the social media is perhaps unsurprising in the current uncertain and volatile scenario, with daily warnings of impending war.

Reporting from Ukraine, our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta has more here:

Deadly attack by soldier fuels conspiracy theories in nervy Ukraine

White House to host German chancellor to discuss Russia-Ukraine tensions

16:03 , Emily Atkinson

US President Joe Biden will hold talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 7 February, the White House has announced.

Among a number of topics up for discussion between the two leaders is their “shared commitment to both ongoing diplomacy and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

A press release from Washington added: “Chancellor Scholz’ visit provides an opportunity to affirm the deep and enduring ties between the United States and Germany.

“They will also discuss the importance of continued close cooperation on a range of common challenges, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing the threat of climate change, and promoting economic prosperity and international security based on our shared democratic values.”

Ukraine approves of US response to Russia’s demands, says foreign affairs minister

15:52 , Emily Atkinson

‘Little ground for optimism’ in US response to Russian demands, says Kremlin

15:37 , Emily Atkinson

The Kremlin has said that the US response to Russia’s demands it says will improve security in Europe have left “little ground for optimism” in resolving tensions over Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, however added that “there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue, it’s in the interests of both us and the Americans.”

Peskov said the Russian reaction would come soon.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US announcement could lead to “the start of a serious talk on secondary issues,” but emphasised that “the document contains no positive response on the main issue.”

Kremlin officials will offer proposals to Putin, Lavrov concluded.

Ukraine-Russia crisis: Your questions on what is happening answered live by Kim Sengupta

15:05 , Emily Atkinson

Kim Sengupta, The Independent’s World Affairs Editor, covered the last Ukraine conflict and is reporting from there now.

He will be answering your questions live from Ukraine in our latest ‘Ask Me Anything’ event at 1.30pm UK time on Friday 28 January.

All you have to do is register to submit your question in the comments section under the article below:

Your chance to ask our man in Ukraine anything as tensions with Russia rise

NATO-Russia missile crisis ‘unavoidable’ if no agreement reached, says Kremlin official

14:50 , Emily Atkinson

A missile crisis between NATO and Russia is “unavoidable” if no agreement is reached to ensure neither deploys short or intermediate-range (INF) nuclear missiles.

According to the TASS news agency, foreign ministry official Vladimir Ermakov said: “We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new ‘missile crises’ are unavoidable.

“We insist NATO’s ‘joint nuclear missions’ must immediately be stopped, all the American nuclear arms returned to the United States, and the infrastructure that allows it to ensure a rapid deployment liquidated,”

‘Nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2’, says US German ambassador

14:25 , Emily Atkinson

US and Germany could target key Russian pipeline if it invades Ukraine

14:05 , Emily Atkinson

A US spokesman has said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “will not move forward” if Russia were to attack Ukraine.

The contentious energy project running under the Baltic Sea is designed to double the flow of gas direct from Russia to Germany.

Speaking to NPR, Ned Price said: “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” he said, but added that he was “not going to get into the specifics” of how it would be stopped.

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, later told the German parliament they are working alongside NATO allies to devise “a strong package of sanctions” covering aspects “including Nord Stream.”

His biggest fight yet: Ukraine-Russia crisis pushes Vitali Klitschko centre stage

13:37 , Emily Atkinson

The mayor of Kiev, the former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, knows a thing or two about fighting.

But even he is daunted by a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, the possibility of which has loomed large since Moscow massed tens of thousands of troops near the territory.

The 45-year-old, who turned to politics full-time after his retirement from boxing in 2013, has become a central voice in the crisis, which currently shows no signs of abating.

Rory Sullivan reports:

His biggest fight yet: Ukraine-Russia crisis pushes ​Vitali Klitschko centre stag

Watch: Russia holds navy drills in Black Sea as tensions with Ukraine grow

13:11 , Emily Atkinson

A fleet of 20 Russian warships have departed from their naval bases for drills in the Black Sea, as tensions continue to mount between Moscow and Ukraine, writes Shweta Sharma.

“The training exercise was aimed at practising the crews’ operations in the event of simultaneous threats both from the air and from the sea,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The large-scale naval group, comprising frigates, patrol ships, missile ships, landing ships, anti-submarine ships, and minesweepers, left from their naval bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiysk for drills in the waters of the Black Sea, situated at the southeastern extremity of Europe.

Read more here.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss calls on Moscow to ‘de-escalate’

13:05 , Emily Atkinson

France pledges support to Romania amid security fears in eastern Europe

12:54 , Emily Atkinson

France’s defence minister has pledged its support to Romania, which shares over 600km of its border with northern neighbour Ukraine, through “difficult times”.

The comments were made at a meeting in Bucharest between Vasile Dincu and Florence Parly.

The two defence ministers also discussed Romania’s procurement of naval ships from its fellow NATO member.

“The current security situation is worrying on the eastern flank of Europe,” said Parly after the meeting.

“In this context, Romanians are rightly anxious to strengthen their own security, as tensions in Ukraine continue to escalate … we understand your situation and want to support you.”

She added that a “mission of experts from my ministry is arriving in Romania today to study the parameters of this possible deployment,” and that France is also “fully committed” to strengthen and help modernise Romania’s armed forces.

Moscow accuses US of not taking Russian security concerns into account

12:35 , Emily Atkinson

A Kremlin spokesperson has said that the US had not shown willing to address Russia’s security concerns after Washington formally responded its proposals to redraft post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.

Dmitry Peskov said: “Based on what our colleagues said yesterday, it’s absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents... we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account.

“But we won’t rush with our assessments,” he added

Ukrainian president responds to deadly shooting

12:17 , Rory Sullivan

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has responded to the deadly shooting earlier today by a Ukrainian soldier.

The attack left five Ukrainians dead at the Pivdenmash missile factory in Dnipro. The suspect, Artemiy Ryabchuk, fled the scene but was later caught.

“I expect law enforcement to fully inform the public about all the circumstances of the crime. Motives of the killer, how (the shooting) became possible — everything should be analyzed as thoroughly as possible,” Mr Zelensky said in an online statement.

More Nato troops could be sent to Slovakia, foreign minister says

11:54 , Rory Sullivan

Nato could deploy more soldiers to Slovakia and other European countries in response to Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine, the Slovak foreign minister has said.

Ivan Korcok told reporters on Thursday that a decision had not yet been finalised.

US to send missiles to Europe and Asia, Russia claims

11:38 , Rory Sullivan

The Kremlin has said more measures are required to avoid a Russian-American nuclear missile crisis, as it claims the US is preparing to send warheads to Europe.

The state-run TASS news agency reported that Vladimir Ermakov, a senior Russian foreign ministry official, had claimed the US was likely to send short and intermediate range missiles to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Russia-Ukraine tensions explained

11:15 , Rory Sullivan

#icymi

Trouble is still brewing in Europe, as diplomats seek to de-escalate the tensions caused by the build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

Our reporter Thomas Kingsley has this helpful summary of what has happened so far:

Ukraine-Russia explained: A simple guide to what’s going on

Political points should not be scored over Ukraine, says former Russian president

10:56 , Rory Sullivan

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said political points should not be scored amid the tensions over Ukraine.

Referring to talks with the US, the Putin ally said: “It’s obvious here that the most important and single route is actually to come to agreement on security guarantees, (through) political-diplomatic means, negotiations, the use of the principle of the indivisibility of security...”

He added that conflict between Moscow and Washington over Ukraine would be “catastrophic”.

There is room for more dialogue on Ukraine, says Russia

10:35 , Rory Sullivan

There is room for Russia to continue its dialogue with the US over Ukraine, a Kremlin spokesperson has said.

However, Moscow said it needed time to review America’s response to its security demands.

They added that it was in everyone’s interests to keep diplomatic channels open, but stressed that Nato’s refusal to agree to its terms was problematic. The Kremlin wants the organisation to promise that Ukraine will never join the alliance.

Russia ‘likely to remain on diplomatic track’ for next two weeks, says Ukrainian foreign minister

10:15 , Rory Sullivan

Russia is likely to continue diplomatic talks with Ukraine and the west for at least the next fortnight, the Ukrainian foreign minister has said.

“Nothing has changed, this is the bad news,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday, referring to talks in Paris on Wednesday.

“The good news is that advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track,” he said from Copenhagen.

Mr Kuleba added that Russia wants Ukraine to speak directly to separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, something Kyiv will not agree to.

British minister ‘not optimistic’ Russian invasion of Ukraine can be avoided

09:54 , Rory Sullivan

As my colleague mentioned in an earlier post, the British defence minister Ben Wallace has said he is “not optimistic” that a Russian invasion of Ukraine can be stopped.

Here’s Matt Mathers with more on this story:

UK defence secretary ‘not optimistic’ Russian invasion of Ukraine can be stopped

Ukranian soldier detained over factory shooting

09:35 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian police have arrested a national guard soldier wanted over the killing of five security guards at a military factory early this morning, officials said.

Armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the national guard soldier allegedly gunned down five security guards and injured five other at the Pivdenmash missile factory in the central city of Dnipro as weapons were being issued to the guards.

The soldier has been identified as Artem Ryabchuk by the interior ministry, who have said that he would “bear the strictest responsibility provided by law”.

He was arrested after several hours on the run.

A special commission would be set up to investigate all circumstances that could have instigated the crime, interior minister Denys Monastyrskiy said.

Ukraine has no “weak points”, will fight back, warns foreign minister Kuleba

08:52 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine will fight back if Russia decides to fight, warned Ukrainian foreign minister Dymtro Kuleba said on Thursday, as the tensions between the two nations soar.

The top minister added that we need to let the Russian president know that “we have no weak points”, as he urged the western partners to send a coordinated message to Russia.

He accused the Russian chief Vladmir Putin of charting a scheme to harm Ukraine as he alleged that “Plan A for Russian president Putin is destabilisation of Ukraine without resorting to military force.

Mr Kuleba said that Ukraine is not planning any offensive action and is committed to a diplomatic action.

He said that “cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns are happening right now, as we speak”

“We still hope diplomacy will succeed, like it did during the escalation in spring in 2021,” he said.

The number of Russian troops near the border area, he said, is becoming higher and higher every day.

“We are at a point where we need hard power, not just soft power,” the minister said.

‘Not optimistic’ Russian invasion of Ukraine can be stopped: Defence secretary

08:28 , Arpan Rai

On Russian incursion, defence secretary Ben Wallace has said that while there was still “a chance” an invasion could be halted, he is “not optimistic”.

The remarks from the defence secretary come at a time he prepares to meet his counterpart and Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow.

Alongside, foreign secretary Liz Truss has said said the UK is not ruling out support for personal sanctions against president Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine.

“We have ruled nothing out in terms of sanctions, and in fact we’ll be legislating to toughen up our sanctions regime and make sure we are fully able to hit both individuals and companies, and banks, in Russia in the event of an incursion,” Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.

However, the US President Joe Biden has suggested moving to penalise the Russian president could be an option in the case of an invasion.

Benjamin Cooper has the full report here.

Five killed after Ukranian soldier fires at a military factory

06:58 , Arpan Rai

At least five were killed and five were injured on early Thursday after a Ukrainian National Guard soldier fired at security guards at a military factory in central Ukraine.

The reason behind the firing is not immediately clear.

The soldier armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle opened fire and fled the scene, the interior ministry officials said, confirming the deaths and injuries.

Five dead after Ukrainian soldier opens fire on security guards

The firing took place in Dnipro at the Pivdenmash missile factory while weapons were being issued to the guards, officials said.

Police officials are looking for the escaped soldier.

This attack comes at a time Ukraine and Russia are engaged in a tense regional conflict as Vladimir Putin has ordered an invasion. The Russian military has been lining up tens of thousands of its troops along the country’s border with Ukraine.

Nato members, alongside have accused Russia of planning an invasion of the country.

Number of negotiations have failed to resolve the crisis.

Inside the Ukrainian border city with strong ties to Russia

06:31 , Arpan Rai

Standing in Freedom Square in Kharkiv, an angry Kiril Semenov said “It is unthinkable for me and my friends to pick up a gun and start fighting the Russians. We have lived together all our lives and now there are people who are trying to turn us into enemies and start a bloodbath.”

He was expressing views which are held, to lesser and greater extent, by a sizeable number of the Russian-speaking population in this city.

Ukrainians are preparing for what they fear are dark and violent days ahead as the diplomatic options to stop a new war in Europe are fading away.

While many have rushed to join volunteer groups in order to resist Vladimir Putin-ordered invasion. They believe it may be imminent.

However, there are others who think that a conflict is being manufactured by the government’s behaviour in Kiev. They think that this has been encouraged by the west, goading Moscow into a war which will end in disaster for Ukraine.

“This war is being brought about by the Americans and Nato telling the people in Kiev not to compromise, using Ukraine again as their proxy,” held the 48-year-old electrical engineer.

“And if the fighting does start, will Nato come here to fight the Russians? Of course not, they have already said they would not.”

World Affairs Editor Kim Sengupta reports from inside the city.

China on Russia-Ukraine crisis: ‘Resolve reasonable security concerns’

05:51 , Arpan Rai

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has asked the United States that Russia’s “reasonable security concerns should be taken seriously and resolved” as it spoke on the simmering war-like situation for the first time.

Talking to the US secretary of state Antony Blinken, Mr Wang said that the “regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs.”

“One country’s security cannot be at the expense of the security of other countries, and regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs,” the top Chinese minister told Mr Blinken over a telephonic conversation.

US’s Blinken talks to China’s Wang on Ukraine risks

05:47 , Arpan Rai

In its latest round of talks with China, the US has pressed for de-escalation and diplomacy as a war-like situation brews between Russia and Ukraine after US secretary of state Antony Blinken spoke to Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

The discussions spanned from global security and economic risks that could spill from any further display of aggression from Russia.

Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “Secretary Blinken ... conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward.”

Washington has been leaning for a diplomatic path amid the crisis as it addressed sweeping Russian demands in eastern Europe.

Alongside, Moscow has carried out security talks with Western countries by parallely amping up its military presence near Ukraine with new drills.

Russia-Ukraine crisis: UK ‘considering sending hundreds of troops to Eastern Europe’

05:04 , Arpan Rai

The British military officials are contemplating whether to send hundreds of troops to eastern Europe and discussions are taking place after the US sought support from the UK and other Nato allies as the west looks at a war-like situation between Russia and Ukraine.

Very advanced discussions are taking place between top UK defence figures, according to a report. An announcement on new deployments is expected as soon as Thursday.

The US wants to bolster military presence and has been seeking reassurances from the UK for backing reinforcement of Nato’s eastern flank running from the Baltic states to Romania and Bulgaria in the south.

This comes shortly after US president Joe Biden’s administration replied to Russia’s security demands in its first written response over the crisis brewing on the border. In a first such, Mr Biden has rejected Vladimir Putin’s push for Ukraine to not be allowed in the alliance.

Sam Hancock reports in detail here.

Canada’s mission to train Ukrainian soldiers to be extended

04:29 , Arpan Rai

As the tensions between Russia and the west simmer, Canada will extend and expand its mission to train Ukrainian soldiers, as prime minister Justin Trudeau vowed to help the European nation in its fight to “defend their territorial integrity”.

The country has extended its $340m (£199m) commitment to extend Operation Unifier — the training mission — by another three years.

Canada, however, will not help arm Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons, rejecting the country’s request.

Mr Trudeau has also not ruled out sending weapons in future.

“We continue to look for ways to be helpful to the Ukrainian people as they stand up for their rights to live in a democracy, to choose the course of their country, to defend their territorial integrity. This is something we are unequivocal on,” the Canadian PM said.

He said that Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely and “stand by our Ukrainian friends as we look to give them the support that they need.

US warns Nord Stream 2 project to be stopped if Russia invades Ukraine

03:54 , Arpan Rai

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline running between Russia and Germany will not move forward if Russia invades Ukraine, warned US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday.

Mr Price said: “I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” Price said.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics. We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Nord Stream 2 is known as Europe’s most divisive energy project which is designed to double the quantity of gas flowing to Russia straight to Germany. In doing so, it bypasses traditional transit nation Ukraine.

The project has faced resistance from the European Union, from the US and Ukraine as they have cited Europe’s increased energy dependence on Russia by denying the transit fees for Ukraine.

‘Diplomacy should continue until the last moment'

Wednesday 26 January 2022 23:05 , Katy Clifton

Diplomacy should continue until the last moment in the tense Ukraine stand-off to allow both sides to pull back, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, singling out Russia’s “completely unjustified threats”.

Stressing the need for mediation, the Most Rev Justin Welby warned that once war flared all control would be “completely lost” and the “casualties will be terrible”.

Speaking in Parliament, the head of the worldwide Anglican church also pressed the Government over provision being made to support fleeing refugees “should the worst come to the worst”.

His comments came amid mounting fears of an invasion by Russia, which has amassed 100,000 troops along the border with its former Soviet neighbour.

Addressing the Tory Lords leader Baroness Evans of Bowes Park following a statement on the Ukraine crisis, Mr Welby said: “Would she agree that mediation and diplomacy should be pursued until the last moment, seeking to find ways of giving both sides the opportunity to withdraw, particularly the Russians to withdraw from their completely unjustified threats?

“Because the one thing we can be sure of is once a war starts all control of the situation is completely lost, possibly for years, and the casualties will be terrible.”

Turkey urges Russia to resist aggression towards Ukraine

Wednesday 26 January 2022 21:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said Russia would be unwise to launch a military conflict in Ukraine.

He added that Turkey would do what is necessary as a Nato member if his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ordered such moves.

In an interview on broadcaster NTV, Erdogan said he had invited Putin to Turkey under a proposal to host Russia and Ukraine for talks on diplomacy and peace.

Erdogan said he expects Putin to respond to his invitation.

He added that there was a need for discussing some of Russia’s security concerns, while also explaining to Moscow that some of its demands are not plausible.

Russian and Ukrainian reps to meet again in two weeks

Wednesday 26 January 2022 20:50 , Lamiat Sabin

Another talk between Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany will be held in two weeks’ time.

The discussion will focus on the parties’ interpretation of the Minsk accord agreed in 2014 and 2015.

The agreement had seen a ceasefire brokered between Russia and Ukraine.

Despite the uncertainty whether all parties were on the same page over the agreement, Russia and Ukraine agreed today in Paris to uphold the ceasefire that applies to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Representatives from the four countries will again meet for talks, held under the so-called ‘Normandy format’, in Berlin in February.

Russia and Ukraine pledge to uphold ceasefire

Wednesday 26 January 2022 20:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Four countries – including Russia and Ukraine – have committed to uphold a previously-agreed ceasefire.

Advisors to the heads of the two countries, France, and Germany have reaffirmed their pledge to uphold the ceasefire brokered in the so-called Minsk accords – a joint statement says.

The four countries met for talks in Paris as tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated.

They said in the statement: “They support unconditional compliance with the ceasefire (...) regardless of differences on other issues related to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France talk concludes

Wednesday 26 January 2022 20:15 , Lamiat Sabin

A talk held in Paris between diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France has finished, according to two diplomatic sources – as reported by Reuters.

The four-way discussion aimed to come to a conclusion on how to end escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

The discussions, held under the so-called ‘Normandy format’, lasted more than eight hours.

The Normandy format talks involve the four countries, whose representatives met informally during the 2014 D-Day celebration in the French region, in an effort to resolve the war in eastern Ukraine.

Russia sending army to Belarus amid ‘increasing tensions’

Wednesday 26 January 2022 20:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia is deploying troops and weapons to Belarus, Nato has said.

The soldiers are in addition to the many tens of thousands reportedly already deployed to the border shared by Russia and Ukraine.

“Tensions are increasing,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

“We see more troops not only in and around Ukraine, but also now in Belarus where Russia is in the process of deploying thousands of troops, hundreds of aircraft, S-400 air defence systems and a lot of other very advanced capabilities,” he said.

Mr Stoltenberg added that these actions were taken under the excuse of military exercises.

NATO sends letter to Moscow about Russia’s demands

Wednesday 26 January 2022 19:20 , Lamiat Sabin

Nato has sent its written response to Russia’s security demands to Moscow today, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

“We call on Russia once again to immediately de-escalate the situation.

“Nato firmly believes that tensions and disagreements must be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy,” Mr Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

He repeated his call for Moscow and Nato to reestablish their respective offices in Brussels and Moscow, and to make full use of military channels of communication to promote transparency and reduce risks.

Reuters

UK ‘not in judgement’ of nations that don’t arm Ukraine

Wednesday 26 January 2022 19:15 , Lamiat Sabin

The UK has insisted that it is not judging countries who have chosen not to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, defence secretary Ben Wallace said today during a visit to Berlin.

He was asked during a news conference alongside his German counterpart whether he felt Germany was doing enough to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Wallace said: “The advantage of being in Nato is there are 30 allies so we can all assist Ukraine in our own way.”

“Obviously the United Kingdom has taken a view that lethal aid of a tactical defensive nature is something that the Ukrainians need. But we’re not sitting in judgement over other countries.”

Germany has refused to provide arms to Ukraine amid the escalating tensions between Kiev – backed by Western nations – and Moscow, and instead offered 5,000 helmets to Ukranian troops.

Vitali Klischko, mayor of Kiev and former boxing world champion, blasted the offer of the helmets as “a joke”, adding whether Germany was going to send “pillows next”.

Allies involved in US response to Russia, says Blinken

Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:41 , Liam James

Antony Blinken said allies and partners of the US were involved in drafting Washington’s written response to Russia’s demands.

He said the response included “comment, input and ideas from allies and partners.”

He confirmed that Joe Biden had a hand in its drafting and said “allies and partners were intimately involved as well, and we took on board many of the comments they had made and integrated them into the document.”

US made ‘no concessions’ to Russia’s demand on Ukraine, says Blinken

Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:15 , Liam James

The US has made no concessions to Russia’s main demand that Ukraine be barred from joining Nato, Antony Blinken said.

In a briefing after the US delivered a document containing a written response to Russia’s security demands, the secretary of state said: “Without going into the specifics of the document I can tell you that it is what we said publicly for many weeks, and in a sense for many years.

“That we will uphold the principle of Nato's open-door. And that, as i have said repeatedly in recent weeks, a commitment that we are bound to.

“The document, as I have said, makes very clear some of the basic principles that we are standing by, committed to, and will uphold.”

This meant there had been no concession in the document, he said.

Bundestag meeting to be held over helmets for Ukraine

Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:10 , Lamiat Sabin

A meeting will be held tomorrow in Germany’s Bundestag over the country’s offer of 5,000 helmets to Ukranian troops.

The meeting will follow criticism from Vitali Klischko, mayor of Kiev and former boxing world champion.

He blasted the offer of the helmets as “a joke”, adding whether Germany was going to send “pillows next”.

Germany has refused to provide arms to Ukraine amid the escalating tensions between Kiev – backed by Western nations – and Moscow.

Andriy Melnyk, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, said on Twitter: “On Thursday, January 27, the new parliamentary hearings initiated by us will take place in the German Bundestag.

“Ensuring peace in Europe: Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be questioned.

“Berlin must finally act decisively to avoid another Russian invasion!”

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