Russia-Ukraine update: Zelenskiy invites Biden to Ukraine, Germany’s Scholz to visit Kyiv

Russia-Ukraine update: Zelenskiy invites Biden to Ukraine, Germany’s Scholz to visit Kyiv
Service members take part in military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Gozhsky training ground in the Grodno region, Belarus, February 12, 2022. Leonid Scheglov/BelTA/Handout via REUTERS

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Today, there are an estimated 100,000 troops and tanks at the Russian-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia is looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denies it intends to invade and says that the troops have been positioned there for self-defense. Meanwhile, they’ve sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO. The United States responded by writing to Russia, saying that they wouldn’t ban Ukraine but would find ways to work with Russia where suitable.
  • Last week, there was a flurry of diplomatic activity between NATO and Russia, with Russia saying that diplomacy was an option and Moscow reportedly preparing responses to the US’ proposals.
  • There are also currently around 30,000 Russian troops in Belarus, a close Russian ally, for 10 days of military drills. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki labeled the drills as “escalatory” amid the current tensions.

The development:

  • Over the last few days, there has been more finger-pointing, a continued push for diplomacy, more threats of action by the West if Russia does invade and warnings about a Russian attack at any time.
  • Foreign embassies have also continued to urge their citizens to leave Ukraine. On Friday, Ukraine demanded answers from Russia. It called for a meeting under the rules of the Vienna Document, an agreement on security issues adopted by the members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Russia is a member.
  • Ukraine insists that the situation remains “under control” and that its airspace remains open despite international airlines suspending flights over the country.
  • Over the weekend, Biden and Putin also had a call about the situation, with the Kremlin labeling the talks as businesslike and balanced but inconclusive.
  • Some other key developments include Biden and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking on Sunday, with Biden saying that the US and its allies would act “swiftly and decisively” in the event of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
  • Zelenskiy also invited Biden to Ukraine as a means of helping stabilize and deescalate the situation. He said it would be “a powerful signal and contribute to de-escalation.”
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also planning to travel to Kyiv on Monday.

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