As Russia and Ukraine begin military exercises, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his diplomats and stressed his demand for “legally enforceable security guarantees” from the United States and the EU. NATO.
In a statement on Thursday, Putin said he was confident the Russian Foreign Ministry would strengthen the country’s “positions on the world stage“, but warned against rising global tensions.
Putin’s remarks coincided with the launch by Russia and Belarus of 10 days of joint military exercises. The Ukrainian army conducts exercises during the same period, in response to Russian war games.
Meanwhile, diplomatic attempts to avert a feared Russian invasion fail. After British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday, Russia’s foreign minister said British officials had come “unprepared”.
Russia denies planning an attack, but Western nations and Kyiv were spooked by Moscow’s muster of more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine.
Here are the latest updates:
What happens with military exercises?
- Russia and Belarus have started 10 days of joint military exercises.
- Moscow said the aim of the drills was “to train to suppress and repel external aggression”.
- Russia and Belarus have not disclosed exactly how many troops are taking part in the maneuvers, but around 30,000 Russian forces are thought to be involved.
- The Kremlin has insisted that Russian troops return home once the exercises are over.
- Kyiv, for its part, denounced the drills as “psychological pressure from our neighbours” and launched its own maneuvers in response.
- Participating Ukrainian forces, the number of which has not been disclosed, are expected to use Bayraktar drones and Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles supplied by foreign allies during the drills.
Learn more here.
Lavrov says ‘London doesn’t hear Moscow’
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow, said it was quickly clear how ‘frosty’ the exchange between Truss and Lavrov was when the pair walked out of their talks to speak at a conference Press.
“The Russian foreign minister says that London does not hear Moscow,” she said. “Obviously the two ministers disagreed…there is a huge rift between the two sides, which has only been highlighted by this meeting today.”
UK FM slams Russia’s ‘aggression’ in tense exchange with Lavrov
Truss says “Russia’s aggression and attempts to question the past” are undermining the country’s international standing.
“These actions actually had the effect of strengthening NATO’s resolve and further alienating the Ukrainian people from Russia,” she told a news conference in Moscow, alongside Lavrov. .
Truss also called on Russia to withdraw its forces near the Ukrainian border in a tense exchange of views between the two men. Lavrov, for his part, dismissed as regrettable Moscow’s demands to withdraw its troops from its own territory.
Looks like Liz Truss’ trip to Moscow didn’t go well with Lavrov, who said British diplomats came to their meeting “unprepared” and said it was “like a mute talking to a deaf person” pic.twitter.com/GkTIxYRBI4
– max seddon (@maxseddon) February 10, 2022
‘Warning period’ for possible Russian attack is shrinking, NATO chief warns
The number of Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine is increasing and the warning period for a possible attack is getting shorter, the NATO 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 increasing. The warning time for a possible attack is decreasing,” he said. “NATO is not a threat to Russia, but we must prepare for the worst while remaining firmly committed to finding a political solution.”
‘We have to draw lines in the snow’: UK Prime Minister
Johnson called on Europe to firmly uphold Ukraine’s right to join NATO as Moscow demanded its neighbor never be allowed to join the alliance.
“As an alliance we have to draw lines in the snow and be clear there are principles we will not compromise on,” the British prime minister said. “This includes the security of every NATO ally and the right of every European democracy to aspire to NATO membership.”
Ukraine denounces Russian naval exercises in the Black Sea
Ukraine has sharply criticized Russian naval drills near its southern coast, saying the drills have made sailing in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov “practically impossible”.
In a statement from the Foreign Ministry, Ukraine said Russia’s actions “showed flagrant disregard for the rules and principles of international law” and that Kyiv would work with partner countries to prepare a response.
“Such aggressive actions by the Russian Federation in its Hybrid War against Ukraine are unacceptable,” the statement said.
Ukraine invasion would be disastrous, UK warns Russia
Truss again warned Moscow that an invasion of Ukraine would be disastrous for Russia, Ukraine and Europe, and would entail significant 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 will have massive consequences and incur significant costs,” the British minister said. of Foreign Affairs to Lavrov during his visit to the Russian capital.
French foreign minister expresses hope that Russia will continue talks
Russia’s willingness to continue four-party diplomatic talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine would be a positive signal from the talks in Berlin, the French foreign minister said.
Speaking to France Inter radio, Jean-Yves Le Drian said the general situation was extremely worrying. He also denounced the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises as “a very violent gesture”.
Putin praises Russian diplomacy, stresses need for security guarantees
Putin praised Russian diplomats for their “duty” in a statement 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 “growing increasingly 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] countering emerging threats and challenges, first of all, by seeking comprehensive and legally enforceable security guarantees for our country from the United States and its NATO allies,” Putin said.
“Psychological pressure”: Zelensky denounces the Russian-Belarusian exercises
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denounced the war games launched by Russia and Belarus.
“The accumulation of forces on the border is psychological pressure from our neighbours. We don’t see anything new here,” Zelenskyy’s office told 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 Crimean peninsula, then backed separatist rebels as they seized vast swathes of land. tracts of territory in the industrial heart of the east of the country.