Over the rising tensions on its border, Ukraine has requested a meeting with Russia and other members of a crucial European security group.
Dmytro Kuleba, Russia’s foreign minister, claimed the country has rejected official demands to justify the force build-up.
He said the “next step” was to propose a meeting within the next 48 hours to discuss Russia’s objectives in “transparent.”
Despite the presence of 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s borders, Russia has denied any ambitions to invade the country.
However, several Western countries have warned that Russia is ready for military action, with the US warning that aircraft bombardments may begin “at any time.”
More than a dozen countries have issued travel advisories to their people, and several have withdrawn diplomatic personnel from Kiev. According to three sources cited by CBS News, the US is prepared to evacuate all of its employees from Kyiv within the next 48 hours.
Mr Kuleba stated that Ukraine had asked answers from Russia on Friday in accordance with the principles of the Vienna Document, a security pact agreed by members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Russia.
“If Russia is serious about the indivisibility of security in the OSCE region, it must follow through on its pledge to military transparency in order to de-escalate tensions and improve overall security,” he added.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, slammed the “panic” that such accusations may cause and said he had seen no indication that Russia was plotting an invasion in the next days.
He chatted for over an hour on the phone with US Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday. President Biden reaffirmed US support for Ukraine, according to the White House, and both leaders agreed on “the need of continuing to pursue diplomacy and deterrence.”
In a statement released after the call, Ukraine’s president praised the US for its “unwavering support” and urged US President Barack Obama to visit Ukraine. The White House has made no comment on the invitation.
The day before, an hour-long chat between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to produce a breakthrough.
One of Russia’s principal demands, that Ukraine never be permitted to join the Nato military alliance, has been made plain by Western partners, who have stated that the organisation’s door must stay open to prospective members.
However, Ukraine’s ambassador in London, Vadym Prystaiko, told reporters that his nation could be prepared to give up its aim to join Nato in order to avoid conflict, stating that Ukraine is “flexible.”
When asked if Kiyv was considering abandoning its ambitions to join Nato, despite the fact that it was inscribed into the Ukrainian constitution, he responded, “We may – especially if we’re intimidated, blackmailed, and pushed into it.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet with President Zelensky in Kyiv on Monday and President Putin in Moscow on Tuesday in the latest attempt to find a diplomatic settlement.
The chancellor, who took over Germany’s leadership from Angela Merkel in December, has warned that if Russia launches an invasion, it would face serious economic repercussions, echoing warnings made by other Western states and members of the Nato military alliance.
Officials in Berlin, on the other hand, have discounted the chances of a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning new diplomatic discussions throughout Europe in an attempt to draw Russia “back from the brink” of conflict.