A new pressure tool in the Ukrainian crisis.
Joe Biden announced on Friday, January 28, the upcoming dispatch of a limited number of soldiers to Eastern Europe, at the end of a day of all-out exchanges which left a way open for a diplomatic settlement of tensions. around Ukraine.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday called on Westerners not to sow "panic" around the risk of a Russian invasion of his country, while Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed on the "need for de-escalation".
“I will send American troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries soon, not many,” announced the American president, without further details.
The United States has already placed 8,500 soldiers on alert to reinforce NATO.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin estimated that with more than 100,000 Russian troops deployed on Ukraine's borders, Russia had amassed sufficient forces for an invasion, but he stressed that a conflict between Ukraine and Russia was "not inevitable".
"There is still time and scope for diplomacy," he added.
In London, Boris Johnson said he was "determined to accelerate diplomatic efforts and strengthen deterrence to avoid bloodshed in Europe", according to a Downing Street spokeswoman on Friday evening.
The British Prime Minister must meet in the coming days with Vladimir Putin, before a trip to the region.
Attempt to de-escalate
“The likelihood of the attack exists, it has not gone away and it has not been less severe in 2021”, but “we do not see an escalation greater than that which existed” last year, has of his side said Volodymyr Zelensky, during a press conference in Kiev.
"We don't need this panic," he stressed, while calling on Russia to "take steps to prove" that it is not going to attack.
“The greatest risk for Ukraine” currently is “the destabilization of the situation inside the country”, he estimated.
During a conversation with the French president on Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky called for "multiplying meetings and negotiations (...) while a climate conducive to dialogue exists", according to a press release from Kiev.
"As long as diplomatic efforts continue, the likelihood of escalation goes down."
Russia denies any plan of invasion, but considers itself threatened by the expansion of NATO for 20 years and by Western support for Ukraine.
She therefore linked the de-escalation to the end of the policy of enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance, in particular to Ukraine, and to the return of Western military deployments to the 1997 borders.
The United States and NATO formally rejected these requests on Wednesday.
"The responses of the United States and NATO did not take into account the fundamental concerns of Russia," noted the Kremlin in a press release devoted to the interview between Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, Friday morning.
threat of sanctions
"President Putin has expressed no offensive intentions," noted the French presidency, adding that the two leaders agreed on the "need for de-escalation" and continued "dialogue."
The Europeans and the Americans have promised fierce and unprecedented sanctions in the event of an attack on Ukraine.
Were mentioned the strategic gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 between Russia and Germany, or even the access of Russians to transactions in dollars, the queen currency in international trade.
Washington and the European Union said in a joint statement on Friday that they were working to supply "additional volumes of natural gas" destined for Europe, in order to deal with a possible backlash from a "new invasion Russian from Ukraine".
The United States also seized the UN Security Council on Thursday, calling for a meeting on Monday because of the "clear threat" posed in their eyes by Russia to "international peace and security".
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