by Stefan Bos, Worthy News Correspondent
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The United States and Russian presidents tentatively agreed to meet to prevent a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. But sustained shelling in the east and Moscow’s move to recognize two rebel-controlled republics raised doubts about when and if the meeting would occur.
As Europe’s most extensive military buildup and stand-off since the Cold War entered a critical moment, France stepped in to help organize a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said both leaders had “accepted the principle of such a summit.”
It would be followed by a broader meeting to include other nations and leaders, or what the office called “relevant stakeholders,” to discuss security and strategic stability in Europe.
The language from Moscow and Washington was more cautious, but neither side denied a meeting was under discussion.
However, there is little time left as some 150,000, and possibly even 190,000 Russian troops, are believed to be near and in Ukraine, where clashes intensify in the east. Amid the turmoil, President Putin signed a decree recognizing eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk Republics led by Russian-backed separatists.
A U.S. security official told Worthy News that the war had already begun in eastern Ukraine, where he said paramilitary forces joined Russian-backed separatists.
An ongoing conflict between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists killed 14,000 people.
And U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says fighting increased in recent days ahead of a possible Russian invasion. “It certainly looks like everything we said was likely to occur in the lead up to the actual invasion is happening. We are seeing false-flag operations taking place in eastern Ukraine. The manufacturing of provocations and justifications for Russia to go in,” Blinken noted.
Many are now fleeing from Ukraine’s Donbas area in the east to Russia, uncertain of what future lies ahead for them. At least some citizens are also worried about concerns in Kyiv, as some 30,000 Russian troops are in Belarus.
And from the border, that’s just 140 miles or 225 kilometers ride down a newly paved highway to Ukraine’s capital, realizes Yana Osina. “The [Russian] soldiers, just the amount of them, are just bigger and bigger every day. And this totally opposite with what [Russian President] Putin says,” she stressed.
Osina knows about human suffering: she was among those protesting in 2014 against the then-pro-Russian government in Ukraine when scores were killed. The victims, known as the “Heavenly Hundred,” are remembered annually in Kyiv, with people placing candles and flowers in front of photos.
If Russia invades, as the U.S. warns Moscow has already decided to do, a possible meeting between presidents Biden and Putin will be off.
Still, the prospect of a face-to-face summit revived hopes that diplomacy could prevent a more devastating conflict than the one already seen in eastern Ukraine.
Western leaders had warned that a full-scale Russian invasion into Ukraine could result in massive casualties. And enormous economic damage in Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
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