Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants direct negotiations with Russia to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The president said this in his annual State of the Union address to Parliament. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm on Thursday. They will also talk about tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
“We must recognize the fact that we cannot end the war without direct negotiations with Russia,” Zelensky said. The Ukrainian president said all foreign allies had already recognized this. He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the Ukrainian army. “We know our military is the best in the world and it protects us,” he said.
These statements come at a time when tensions are escalating on the Russian-Ukrainian border once again. Kiev and the West suspect Russia is planning an invasion, something the Kremlin denies. For this reason, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday called on the NATO military to reach a deal. deterrence against Russia.
In recent weeks, Ukraine and NATO have noted “extraordinary” troop movements on the border with Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Blinken warned Moscow that aggression against Kiev would have “serious consequences”. Moscow, in turn, accused Kiev of a military buildup in the east of the country.
Blinken and Lavrov meeting
Soon the foreign ministers of the United States and Russia will meet. The American will speak with his Russian counterpart, Lavrov, after meeting with Ukrainian Minister Kuleba. This is happening on the sidelines of an OSCE meeting.
Russia begins winter exercises on the border
Meanwhile, Russia conducted a maneuver involving more than 10 thousand soldiers in the southwest of the country. The Defense Ministry said the operation marked the beginning of the winter training period in the so-called southern region bordering Ukraine. In total, the soldiers were deployed in more than 30 training grounds, including the Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, and in the Rostov region, bordering the eastern regions of Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Parts of Donetsk and Luhansk have been under the control of pro-Russian separatists since 2014. According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far. The peace plan negotiated with French-German mediation is currently on hold.
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