The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will hold an urgent session on Monday as the Ukraine crisis escalates further. On the same day, Russian top officials will discuss the deteriorating security situation in eastern Ukraine with their EU colleagues.
OSCE monitors keep track of ceasefire violations along the line separating the Ukrainian Army and the two breakaway regions’ forces. Shelling has intensified there since last week, with the sides blaming each. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are mobilizing military-age men and evacuating civilians to Russia. Kiev has denied claims that it was planning to retake the rebel regions by force.
Also on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Berlin has confirmed. Plus, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will talk to his Moscow counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov will then meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, according to the White House. Speaking at the UN Security Council last week, Blinken proposed to hold the meeting somewhere in Europe. Andrey Kelin, Russia’s envoy to Britain, told the Interfax news agency that, while Finland had offered to host, Geneva in Switzerland was a “suitable place” for negotiations.
After the talks on Sunday, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Emmanuel Macron of France agreed to work on a possible summit with Moscow, Kiev, and allies to establish “a new peace and security order in Europe,” according to Macron’s office.
The White House said that US President Joe Biden has agreed “in principle” to such a summit sometime after the Lavrov-Blinken talks, “provided Russia does not proceed with military action” against Ukraine.
For months, Western countries have been insisting that Russia plans to invade its neighbor – a claim that Moscow has repeatedly denied. NATO member states say they are particularly worried about Russian troops stationed in the western part of the country and in Belarus. Russia says that its forces are participating in routine exercises and are of no threat to anyone.