A telephone conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has confirmed existing positions. Putin believes that the West does not consider its security interests but wants to continue the dialogue.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had denied that his country wants a war with Ukraine, but at the same time, he reiterated that Moscow would not allow its interests to be harmed.
Tensions surrounding Ukraine continue unabated today, as do diplomatic contacts about it. This afternoon, a telephone conversation between Presidents Macron and Putin apparently failed to yield a breakthrough.
Afterwards, the Kremlin said that “the West is not taking our fundamental interests into account”. Still, President Putin will continue to study Western responses to his demands before deciding on further steps. That is in line with his spokesman Dimitri Peskov and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Minister Lavrov: “We don’t want war, but…” “We do not want war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier today, but he also reiterated “that his country will not allow interests or security to be harmed”.
“If it depends on Russia, there will be no war,” said Russian minister Lavrov:
Lavrov accused the West of being inflexible: “If they don’t change their positions, neither will we. And in that case, I see no room for compromise”. Nevertheless, he thinks it is positive that the West wants to limit medium-range missiles, military exercises, and agreements to reduce the risk of collisions between aircraft and ships. (Read more below the photo).
Russia can count on support from neighbouring Belarus. Russian troops are holding military exercises there together with Belarusian soldiers. Because Belarus is north of Ukraine, the West views the Russian military presence there as a possible springboard for an invasion of Ukraine.
Belarusian leader Aleksander Lukashenko sees it differently: he does not think there will be a war, but if Russia is attacked, he will defend that country or vice versa, Lukashenko threatened. It is itself on a collision course with the West after his highly controversial “re-election” last year and because the West supports the democratic protest movement in Belarus. (Read more below the map).
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, meanwhile, says the alliance is ready to send more troops to Eastern European member states in response to the Russian military presence in Belarus. Stoltenberg said that there are now thousands of battle-ready Russian soldiers with missiles and planes.
Hungary and Slovakia discuss additional troops with NATO. US and Danish fighters were already stationed in Lithuania and Estonia, and Romania is ready to let in additional French troops. Hungary, Slovakia and Romania do not border Russia, but they do border Ukraine. France is also deploying naval vessels in the Black Sea, as is Spain, which is said to send planes to Bulgaria.