Ukraine crisis: Russian invasion could begin ‘anytime’, White House warns – Live updates | world news

Vladimir Putin has hinted that it is not too late for a dialogue on Ukraine as the world continues to wonder whether the Russian president is poised to invade his neighbor or whether his military buildup is a bargaining ploy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: SPUTNIK/Reuters

At a meeting in the Kremlin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Putin he believed there was still room for dialogue over Russian demands for a new security deal with the West, made when Russia sent 140,000 troops to Ukraine’s border in recent weeks gathered.

“It seems to me that our possibilities are far from exhausted. They certainly shouldn’t be continued indefinitely. But at this stage I would suggest that they continue and intensify,” Lavrov told Putin.

Putin, who has moved to holding meetings with extreme social distancing for fear of contracting Covid, gave his approval from across an extremely long table.

Footage released of the meeting appeared to be carefully choreographed to send a message about Kremlin thinking.

“We warn against endless discussions about problems that need to be solved today. Still, as foreign minister, I should say that there is always a chance,” Lavrov said.

At the same time, a senior Russian diplomat told the Guardian that Russia has the right to “counterattack” Ukraine if it believes Kiev is a threat to the people of eastern Ukraine.

“We will not invade Ukraine unless provoked,” Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, said in an interview in Brussels.

“If the Ukrainians launch an attack on Russia, don’t be surprised if we launch a counterattack. Or if they start openly killing Russian citizens somewhere — in Donbass or wherever,” he said.

Donbass is the region of eastern Ukraine where Russia has armed and funded an insurgency since 2014 and where the Kremlin has issued hundreds of thousands of Russian passports. In January, US officials briefed journalists on intelligence allegations that Russia was preparing a “false flag” incident that could be used as a pretext for intervention.

Full report here.

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