Russia blows previous one other off ramp within the Ukraine disaster

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The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ended on Sunday, and a few observers fearful the closing ceremony is perhaps a handy second for Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch navy motion. In any case, historical past does rhyme: Russia escalated a brief conflict with Georgia in 2008 through the Beijing Summer season Olympics, and Russia started its slow-rolling annexation of Crimea on the tail finish of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

However Sunday additionally provided Russia a possible opening for de-escalation. In any case, huge joint Russian navy workouts in Belarus had been slated to finish on February 20, and the Kremlin had instructed Russian troops would go dwelling after they completed, with out giving concrete dates. Belarusian Overseas Minister Vladimir Makei even stated “not a single” Russian solider or piece of Russian navy gear will stay in Belarus as soon as the drills ended.

As a substitute, Russia blew previous one other potential off-ramp within the disaster. In a Sunday assertion launched by the Belarusian navy on Telegram, Belarusian Protection Minister Lt. Gen. Viktor Khrenin stated the Russians and Belarusians would proceed their drills, saying the “enhance in navy exercise close to the exterior borders of the Union State” — Russia and Belarus — and the heightened tensions in Donbas necessitated the choice.

Eyes remained on Donbas Sunday, as evacuees from separatist-controlled components of japanese Ukraine continued to cross into southern Russia and from separatist-controlled areas, whereas studies filtered in of extra shelling.

Native officers in Russia’s Rostov area have declared a state of emergency after separatist leaders on Friday ordered the evacuation of civilians from the area. However Ukraine’s Protection Minister Oleksii Reznikov laid blame on separatists within the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk republics for escalating the state of affairs, accusing Russian-backed separatists of placing heavy weaponry in civilian areas and utilizing it to bombard areas underneath Ukrainian authorities management.

New intel adds to US fears that Russia is readying for military action

In the meantime, the massing of Russian forces round Ukraine’s borders seems to have continued, in response to US intelligence estimates. A US official with direct data of the intelligence advised CNN Russia now has arrayed near 75% of its standard forces parked at Ukraine’s doorstep, pointing to a excessive degree of readiness to assault.

So is diplomacy lifeless? Not totally. Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone Sunday and “agreed to proceed to maintain the dialogue open at varied ranges” relating to the state of affairs in Ukraine, the Kremlin stated. A sticking level, nonetheless, stays the Minsk Agreement, which the Kremlin insists is the one option to resolve the disaster. However the Kyiv authorities sees it as a unexpectedly devised settlement it was compelled to just accept at gunpoint.

And Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, had a phrase of warning for leaders participating with the Russian chief by telephone. Talking to Pavel Zarubin, host of the TV program “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin,” Peskov instructed the Kremlin was ready to reveal confidential discussions of high-level talks with different world leaders to counter what he described as deliberate and deceptive leaks by overseas officers.

“I hope that we are going to not reside in a world the place now we have to learn out the transcripts of the closed a part of the presidents’ talks,” Peskov stated. “However when it’s essential to show the correctness of our president, we will and can do something.”

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