… Intensify diplomatic efforts to end crisis

Disturbed by growing tension in Europe, world leaders are urging Russia to dismantle its alleged plot to invade Ukraine.

United States President, Joe Biden warned
his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the West would champion the imposition of stiff sanctions.

Biden said in a telephone conversation that lasted approximately one hour that the US and its allies would “respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs” if the invasion of Ukraine by Russia goes ahead.

According to the White House,  “President Biden reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing.

“Biden warned Putin that Russia would face “severe economic costs” and “irrevocable reputational damage caused by taking innocent lives for a bloody war.”

Washington noted it was yet to witness any fundamental change in the attitude of Russia, but, it said, both sides had agreed to keep diplomatic channels open, especially in the days to come.

“President Biden was clear with President Putin that while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our Allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios”, the White House added.

US President Joe Biden… Tough on Russia

The Elysee Palace disclosed that the French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, in a phone call with Putin, “conveyed the concerns of his European partners and allies.”

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Macron reportedly told Putin “that sincere dialogue was not compatible with an escalation” of the crisis.

In a related development, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on Saturday spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The two leaders “discussed their shared concerns about the continuing buildup of Russian military forces in and around Ukraine, as well as Russia’s ongoing aggression and destabilization activities.”

“Prime Minister Trudeau”, his office said, “reaffirmed Canada’s steadfast support for the sovereignty … of Ukraine and emphasized that any further military incursion into Ukraine would have serious consequences, including coordinated sanctions.”

The Americans, relying on credible intelligence, are not ruling out the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

They are warning increasingly that a recourse to military action by Russia which has massed troops at the border with Ukraine is very likely.

The Pentagon announced through its spokesperson John Kirby on Saturday that the US has ordered the withdrawal of nearly 160 members of the Florida National Guard based in Ukraine.

Reports also say that the Americans are evacuating most embassy staff from Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.