Connect with us

World

Biden and Putin head into Ukraine talks with scant room for compromise

Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have a chasm of mutual distrust to bridge when they hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday in the shadow of what the United States believes is a threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“A lamentable state,” was how the Kremlin described relations ahead of the extended video conference call, which it expects to start around 1500 GMT/10 a.m. ET.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Washington has accused Russia of massing troops near the border with Ukraine to intimidate an aspiring NATO member, suggesting it could be a repeat of Moscow’s 2014 playbook, when it seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine. It says the West is ready with tough sanctions if Russia invades.

The Kremlin has rejected the idea that its forces are poised to invade as fear-mongering and has said its troops move around its own territory for purely defensive purposes.

For Moscow, the growing NATO embrace of a neighboring former Soviet republic – and what it sees as the nightmare possibility of alliance missiles in Ukraine targeted against Russia – is a “red line” it will not allow to be crossed.

Putin has demanded legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not expand further east or place its weapons close to Russian territory; Washington has repeatedly said no country can veto Ukraine’s NATO hopes.

“I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” Biden said on Friday.

Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council which is close to the Foreign Ministry, said their positions were unlikely to be reconciled.

“The only thing they can probably agree on – if it turns out to be a good conversation – is that everybody directly or indirectly engaged there in the situation should demonstrate restraint and commitment to de-escalate. But otherwise I see no way how Biden can promise Putin that NATO will not go east.”

A spokesperson for the US National Security Council said Washington wanted to avert a crisis and a negative spiral in the broader relationship through diplomacy and de-escalation.

Some Russian and US analysts have suggested the leaders could agree to set up de-escalation talks and the Kremlin has made clear it wants a new Putin-Biden summit next year.

While US officials have repeatedly said they do not know Putin’s intentions towards Ukraine, a Biden administration official told Reuters the United States believed one option he was weighing was a military offensive as soon as early 2022 involving 175,000 troops, armored units and artillery.

The US estimated that half of those Russian units were already near the Ukrainian border, the same official said.

Saving face

The United States offered last week to mediate between Russia and Ukraine on ending the seven-year-old war between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists on the basis of the Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow has no objections to that in principle.

But Vladimir Frolov, a foreign policy analyst and former Russian diplomat in the United States, said drawing Washington into that process would look like a defeat for Moscow. Nor was he confident that Putin would settle for a vague promise of talks on the future security architecture of Europe.

“By demanding legally binding guarantees Moscow has narrowed the room for manoeuvre for its diplomacy, which kind of tells you they are not really betting on diplomacy to succeed,” Frolov said.

In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s armed forces were capable of fighting off any attack from Russia as the country marked its national army day on Monday with a display of US armoured vehicles and patrol boats.

‘No more strength’

People interviewed on the streets of the Ukrainian capital had mixed expectations of Tuesday’s talks.

“We believe that Biden is a big friend of our country. So far he proved himself as a person who sincerely wants to help Ukraine out of this senseless situation,” said Volodymyr Pylypyuk, 71.

But Ruslan Lapuk, a 28-year-old bartender, saw little chance of a breakthrough. “We have nobody to count on but on our own forces, on ourselves first of all,” he said.

Vladimir Bulatov, 61, told Reuters in Moscow that the leaders should talk about reducing the risk of a “hot war,” but he doubted whether it was possible. “I don’t believe anything sensible will come out of this meeting.”

Elena, a pensioner interviewed in the conflict region of eastern Ukraine, said she was pinning her hopes on a halt to shelling.

“Things have to change – that’s what we are hoping for,” she said. “We have no more strength to endure this.”

Biden and Putin head into Ukraine talks with scant room for compromise.

Read more: Ukraine marks army day with US armored vehicles, boats and vows to fight off Russia

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

World

US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

Read more:

Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Four tied bodies found in intentionally burned-out helicopter in Mexico

Astronaut study reveals effects of space travel on human bones

Continue Reading

World

Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

Read more:

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Erdogan says no meeting until Greek PM ‘pulls himself together’: Report

Greece formalizes request for US-made F-35 fighter jets: PM Mitsotakis

Continue Reading

World

One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

Read more:

Three countries ban Russia’s Lavrov flight to Serbia, visit cancelled: Interfax

Kosovo cafe bans Europeans over visa ‘humiliation’

Continue Reading

Trending