Russian, Ukrainian officials meet in bid to ease tensions

PARIS – Russian and Ukrainian representatives met in Paris on Wednesday to discuss de-escalating tensions.

The high-level conference, which will be attended by senior diplomats from France and Germany, will bring the four countries together in a format that has been used frequently since Russia’s takeover of the Ukrainian province of Crimea in 2014, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian delegation is led by Vice-Prime Minister Dmitri Kozak, while Ukraine is represented by presidential advisor Andriy Yermic. Diplomatic advisors to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are also participating in the talks, which began at 1100 GMT on Tuesday.

Despite the fact that Russia has amassed 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, France, which suggested proposals for a “de-escalation” on Monday and is eager for Europe to try to resolve the problem, is hopeful that Russia will be willing to participate in negotiations at this moment.

Despite the fact that the Russians have consented to engage in this diplomatic framework once more, the only one in which they are participants, an aide to Macron said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the move was “quite positive.”

As the aide said, “this meeting will give us a clear indication of the Russians’ attitude ahead of the phone conference between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.” Later in the day, both sides are due to brief the media on their respective positions.

Separate meetings between Russia and the United States have taken place in recent weeks to discuss Russian security demands in Europe, which include the requirement that Ukraine never join the US-led Nato military alliance.

Last Friday, following discussions in Geneva, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov that Washington would respond to Russian demands in writing and also broached the prospect of a presidential summit.

On Wednesday, the talks in Paris took place as Western nations reaffirmed their threat to impose massive economic sanctions on Russia in the event of a Russian strike on pro-Western Ukraine.

US Vice President Joe Biden threatened personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, while the White House stated that the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine “remains imminent.” Macron’s assistant warned on Monday against “creating any ambiguity or creating any extra volatility” in the wake of the rhetoric in Washington and London, as well as their decision to evacuate some embassy workers and families from Kiev. In a statement on Wednesday, the aide stated that “we want de-escalation, which includes both conversation and dissuasion.”

In order to ensure that this dissuasion is sufficiently credible, discussions about sanctions are currently taking place with our European and American allies, as well as with institutions. “The goal is to ensure that the dialogue is credible.” “They are connected,” the assistant continued.

In the aide’s words, “the penalties must not be followed by retaliation that will come back to haunt us and cost us dearly.” Sanctions are not the be-all and end-all of a response, says the author. In addition, the United States is developing preparations to maintain European gas supplies in the event that Russia suspends imports through its pipelines in reaction to Western sanctions.

According to the White House, “ensuring the stability of global energy supplies,” which according to the White House, will be among the topics discussed at Biden’s meeting with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on January 31. “Ensuring the stability of global energy supplies,” the White House said.