Bid to defuse Ukraine tensions intensifies as ‘positive’ signs emerge

Kyiv has laid out three “red lines” it says it will not cross to find a solution — no compromise over Ukraine’s territorial integrity, no direct talks with the separatists and no interference in its foreign policy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday ramped up efforts to stop Russia from invading Ukraine, as Kyiv and Moscow said they saw ‘positive signals’ toward resolving the crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron, returning from separate talks earlier this week with Putin and Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky, had said on Tuesday he glimpsed a way forward towards easing tensions.

While 100,000 Russian soldiers are still massed near Ukraine’s borders, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “diplomacy is continuing to lower tensions”.

More upbeat noises also emerged from Moscow, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that “there were positive signals that a solution to Ukraine could be based only on fulfilling the Minsk agreements”.

Less than 24 hours after his trip in Washington to underline his resolve to US President Joe Biden, Scholz late Tuesday stood alongside Polish leader Andrzej Duda and Macron to declare the Europeans’ unity in their goal of averting war on the continent.

– ‘Further steps’ –

His quiet demeanour has at times been drowned out by noisier voices questioning Western allies’ course, including from within his own Social Democrats, leading critics to question Germany’s resolve in the crisis.

The Russian leader, who has demanded sweeping security guarantees from NATO and the United States, said after his talks with Macron that Moscow would “do everything to find compromises that suit everyone”.

At the same time as sending its military hardware to Ukraine’s borders, Putin has issued demands the West says are unacceptable, including barring Ukraine from joining NATO and rolling back alliance forces in eastern Europe.

It also said an agreement would ensure the withdrawal of some 30,000 Russian soldiers from Belarus at the end of joint military exercises later this month.

The West faces a tough task trying to convince a wary Zelensky to accept any compromises.


Originally published as Bid to defuse Ukraine tensions intensifies as ‘positive’ signs emerge

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