Lavrov urges Putin to continue talks with West over Ukraine
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Around 130,000 Russian troops are currently camped on the Ukraine borders and ready to launch an attack as soon as President Putin gives the order, but the Russian President has not yet made a decision, according to UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Now a meeting between Putin and his trusty Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could have caused a change in temperature.
The two publicly released a video recording of the discussions in which Putin appears to de-escalate threats.
Mr Putin formally addressed Mr Lavrov asking: “In your opinion, is there a chance to agree, to reach an agreement with our partners on key issues that cause our concern, or is it just an attempt to drag us into an endless negotiation process that has no logical conclusion?”
Mr Lavrov replied: “You have already said more than once — you, and other representatives of the Russian Federation — that we warn against endless discussions on issues that need to be resolved today.”
He added: “But still, I must say that there is always a chance.
Referring to a number of meetings with European leaders Mr Lavrov said: “It seems to me that our possibilities are far from being exhausted. Of course, they should not continue indefinitely, but at this stage, I would suggest that they be continued and increased.”
Mr Putin simply replied “OK” appearing to accept the advice to carry on diplomatic talks.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Lavrov’s comments “indicate (Mr Putin) still thinks there’s oxygen here for diplomacy.”
In more attempts at de-escalation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signalled that Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO might end up on the back burner
Mr Zelenskiy said: “There is no signal from us that NATO membership is not our goal. Unfortunately, not everything depends on Ukraine.”
The latest talks will come as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travels to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Mr Putin.
Some troops in Russian military districts adjacent to Ukraine are also returning to bases after completing drills, Russia’s defence ministry was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
However, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that an invasion could take place “imminently” but Mr Putin “can still change his mind”.
Ms Truss said: “If we saw an invasion into Ukraine, there would be severe costs in terms of a long-running conflict, we could see the undermining of security more broadly in Europe and could see other aggressors around the world see it as an opportunity to expand their ambitions too.
“This is a very dangerous moment for the world.
“This is, of course, about Ukraine, which is an important sovereign nation but it’s also about the wider stability of Europe and it’s about wider global security.”
Boris Johnson will chair a full COBRA meeting on Tuesday after cutting a trip to Cumbria sort to return to Downing Street.
Ms Truss added that if Putin does give the order, an invasion could happen “very, very quickly” and could involve a “false flag operation”.
She said: “There could be false claims that they have been provoked to give a pretext for a Russian invasion.
“What we have been doing is we’ve been calling out the Russians, we’ve been exposing their attempts to put a puppet government into Kyiv, we have been exposing their attempts to create a pretext.
“What we do expect over the next few days is there could be an attempt of a false flag operation to create a pretext to claim the Ukrainians are attacking them, so that the Russians have a justification for invading Ukraine.”
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