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Diplomacy on amid war fears


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Putin says US, Nato must take Russia’s security demands ‘seriously’ over Ukraine
 

Protestors gather to oppose a US war with Russia over Ukraine at Grand Central Terminal in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US on Saturday. Photo: AFP
Last-ditch diplomatic efforts were underway yesterday to prevent what Western powers warn could be the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine and a catastrophic European war.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy yesterday called for an immediate ceasefire in the eastern part of the country, where clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces intensified in recent days.

He also said Ukraine supports peace talks within the Trilateral Contact Group, where Ukraine participates along with Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).

"We stand for intensifying the peace process. We support the immediate convening of the TCG and the immediate introduction of a regime of silence," Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday called Russian leader Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine.

During talks with Macron which lasted 105 minutes, Putin blamed Kyiv's 'provocations' for escalation on frontline and said US and Nato must take Russia's security demands 'seriously'. Putin and Macron agreed to 'intensify' diplomatic efforts on Ukraine and work for ceasefire, Macron's office said.

After the conversation with Putin, Macron talked with Zelensky on the telephone, the French presidency said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday said President Joe Biden ready to engage Putin "at any time in any format".

"Until Russia tanks are actually rolling, US seeking diplomatic solution," he said, adding that extending military drills of Russia and Belarus making him more concerned about an invasion of Ukraine.

Western countries are preparing sanctions they say would be wide-reaching against Russian companies and individuals in case of an invasion.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a BBC interview broadcast yesterday that such sanctions would "hit very very hard," and could include restrictions on Russian businesses' access to the dollar and the pound.

However, he acknowledged such threats may not deter Moscow.

India yesterday advised those of its citizens in Ukraine to leave that country temporarily if their stay is not deemed essential, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

"In view of continued tensions in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily," an advisory put up on the website of the Indian Embassy in Kyiv said.
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