Singapore markets closed
  • Straits Times Index

    3,201.89
    +10.73 (+0.34%)
     
  • S&P 500

    4,008.01
    -15.88 (-0.39%)
     
  • Dow

    32,223.42
    +26.76 (+0.08%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    11,662.79
    -142.21 (-1.20%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    30,508.83
    +453.62 (+1.51%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    685.16
    +442.48 (+182.33%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,533.73
    +68.93 (+0.92%)
     
  • Gold

    1,827.90
    +13.90 (+0.77%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    115.15
    +0.95 (+0.83%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    2.8770
    0.0000 (0.00%)
     
  • Nikkei

    26,659.75
    +112.70 (+0.42%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    20,602.52
    +652.31 (+3.27%)
     
  • FTSE Bursa Malaysia

    1,548.60
    +4.19 (+0.27%)
     
  • Jakarta Composite Index

    6,644.47
    +46.47 (+0.70%)
     
  • PSE Index

    6,594.66
    +92.54 (+1.42%)
     

Markets rise on hopes for diplomacy in Russia standoff with Ukraine

·25-min read
Ukrainian servicemen check the situation at the positions on a front line - STANISLAV KOZLIUK/Shutterstock
Ukrainian servicemen check the situation at the positions on a front line - STANISLAV KOZLIUK/Shutterstock

Financial markets around the world have shown signs of recovery after Russia said "even the thought" of a war with Ukraine was unacceptable, soothing investor fears of an imminent escalation of tensions.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said this morning that even the thought of a war breaking out between Russia and Ukraine was "unacceptable", the latest in a series of official statements aimed at quashing fears of a looming Russian invasion.

"We have already repeatedly stated that our country does not intend to attack anyone. We consider even the thought of a war between our people to be unacceptable," said Alexei Zaitsev.

Russia put forward demands of wide-ranging security guarantees from the West last month, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join the US-led Nato military alliance.

The US response, in the form of a letter delivered yesterday has not met these demands, but Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister hailed some initiatives it laid out.

"As far as this document goes, there is a reaction that allows us to hope for a start of a serious discussion but on secondary issues," he told Russian news agencies."There is no positive reaction to the main issue."

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are due to speak on the phone later today.

06:44 PM

Russia to host live firing drills off Irish coast

The Russian navy is to go ahead with live fire exercises off the coast of Ireland despite heightened tensions with the West over Ukraine, the Irish fishing industry said on Thursday.

The drills, expected February 1-5 around 200 kilometres (130 miles) southwest of Ireland, had raised fears Irish fishermen would be unable to operate in the area - in international waters but inside Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone.

Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) representatives held talks with Russian ambassador to Dublin Yury Filatov Thursday and a "fair deal" was reached for the drills and fishing to continue, the IFPEA's Brendan Byrne told AFP.

Warships process during the Navy Day parade in Kronstadt, outside St.Petersburg last year - AP Photo/Anton Vaganov, Pool
Warships process during the Navy Day parade in Kronstadt, outside St.Petersburg last year - AP Photo/Anton Vaganov, Pool

Ireland's foreign and defence minister Simon Coveney, who represents Cork in southwest Ireland, has said they had no powers to prevent the exercises from taking place but had told Filatov they were "not welcome".

"This isn't a time to increase military activity and tension in the context of what's happening with and in Ukraine at the moment," he said in Brussels on Monday.

06:13 PM

Germany charges student with spying for Russia

A Russian academic living in Germany has been charged with spying for the Kremlin.

Ilnur Nagaev is accused of passing confidential information about the Ariane joint space rocket programme, which involves several European countries, to Russia.

Ilnur Nagaev, an assistant at Augsburg University in Bavaria  - www.rt.com
Ilnur Nagaev, an assistant at Augsburg University in Bavaria - www.rt.com

The case comes with tensions already high over the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prosecutors allege Mr Nagaev shared information about Ariane in exchange for €2,500 (£2,080) in cash.

He had access to the information while working as a research assistant and studying for a PhD at Augsburg University.

Read the full story by Justin Huggler in Berlin.

05:41 PM

Investigation ordered into Dnipro shooting

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ordered police to investigate a mass shooting carried out by a member of the national guard that left five dead and several others fighting for their lives.

In one the worst bouts of violence within Ukraine's security services in years, a 21-year-old national guard conscript opened fire at an aerospace factory in the centre of the country in the early hours of this morning.

In a statement, Mr Zelensky described reports of the shooting in the industrial city of Dnipro as "terrible" and offered condolences to the victims' friends and family.

The arrest of Artemy Ryabchuk in Dnipro - UKRAINIAN MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS / AFP
The arrest of Artemy Ryabchuk in Dnipro - UKRAINIAN MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS / AFP

"I expect law enforcement officers to keep the public fully informed about all the circumstances of this crime," he said, including the gunman's motives and "how the incident was allowed to happen".

Four members of the national guard and a female civilian were among those killed when the shooter opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and immediately fled the scene.

In a later statement, the State Bureau of Investigation (DBR), which probes major crimes, said the gunman had contacted police himself and surrendered to officers in the town of Pidgorodne outside Dnipro.

05:03 PM

Report suggests journalists being arrested near border

This tweet from our Russian correspondent on worrying developments on the Ukraine - Russian border, where journalists have been interviewing locals.

04:47 PM

UK Foreign Office 'defending freedom & democracy'

The UK Foreign Office has outlined the reasons that the UK is standing with Ukraine over the conflict with Russia.

04:36 PM

United front between US and Ukraine

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reaffirming how the US and the Ukraine are working hand in hand.

04:13 PM

US-Ukraine call will address security issues

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday will address security issues, energy and macro-financial support, Zelenskiy's spokesman Sergii Nykyforov wrote on Facebook.

03:44 PM

US President Biden and Ukrainian President Zelensky will speak today

Just in from CNN's White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. The pair will speak in just over three hours.

03:38 PM

'Diplomacy only works in the context of de-escalation'

US state department spokesman Ned Price has been doing the media rounds this morning.

Earlier he told NPR: "I want to be very clear. If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward, and we want to be very clear about that."

Here he is on CNN outlining how the US and Russia can only have diplomatic discussions if there is de-escalation.

03:16 PM

German Chancellor to meet Joe Biden at White House

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet US President Joe Biden on February 7 during his visit to the White House, it has been announced.

The two leaders are expected to discuss ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, among other topics, the White House said.

Jen Psaki, the White House spokeswoman said: "Chancellor Scholz' visit provides an opportunity to affirm the deep and enduring ties between the United States and Germany. The leaders will discuss their shared commitment to both ongoing diplomacy and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine."

It will be Mr Scholz' first trip to the US as Chancellor.

03:04 PM

Germans support government's reticence to supply arms

A majority of Germans support the country’s policy of not supplying weapons to Ukraine, a poll has found, Justin Huggler reports from Berlin.

Olaf Scholz’s government has come under criticism from its allies over its refusal to send arms to Ukraine to defend itself against a possible Russian invasion, but a poll by Yougov found 59 per cent of Germans supported their government’s position.

Only 20 per cent said Germany should send weapons, while 21 per cent were undecided.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz - Stefanie LOOS / AFP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz - Stefanie LOOS / AFP

Germany was ridiculed on Wednesday after it announced it was sending 5,000 helmets instead of weapons. Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer turned mayor of Kyiv, branded the announcement a “joke”. Ukraine has called on Germany to supply warships and air defence systems, but Mr Scholz’s government says it is sticking to a longstanding policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones.

Berlin last year vetoed Nato supplying arms to Ukraine, and is currently blocking Estonia from sending howizters under the conditions of their original export from Germany. It has been accused of hypocrisy for making billions in arms sales to countries like Egypt that are involved in the conflicts in Libya and Yemen.

02:17 PM

Zelensky pleased with 'positive talks'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed the outcome of talks between senior Russian and Ukrainian officials in Paris earlier this week aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Zelensky "positively assesses the fact of the meeting, its constructive nature, as well as the intention to continue meaningful negotiations in two weeks in Berlin," his press service said in a statement.

Envoys from Moscow and Kyiv on Wednesday agreed after talks that all parties should observe a ceasefire in the east of Ukraine where government forces have been battling pro-Russia separatists since 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - PRSIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - PRSIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

"For our state, the first priority today is to achieve stable and unconditional silence in the Donbas," Zelensky's press service quoted him as saying, referring to the areas in eastern Ukraine by their collective name.

"The ceasefire regime must be guaranteed and reliable, and it is the basis on which the next steps can be taken."

A 2015 ceasefire deal - bolstered in 2020 - helped end the worst fighting over two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that has claimed some 13,000 lives.

01:57 PM

US offers Russia the chance to inspect missile defence sites

The United States has reportedly offered Russia an opportunity to inspect its missile defence sites in Poland and Romania as a confidence-building measure amid escalating tensions over Ukraine, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports.

The US proposals sent to Russia in a letter on Wednesday included an invitation for Moscow to inspect US ballistic missile defence sites in Poland and Romania, the very installations that Russia has argued were threatening its security, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday quoting unnamed US officials.

The missiles are intended to counter Iranian missiles that might threaten Europe but Moscow has suspected they could be used to launch an attack on Russia.

Inspections could assuage the Kremlin’s fears that they were not intended for offensive purposes.

Russia and the United States had a history of mutual weapons inspections dating back to the end of the Cold War, and as recently as in 2019 Russia allowed US inspectors to see its new Avangard hypersonic nuclear systems.

But Russia and the United States in 2020 suspended bilateral inspection missions under the 2010 New START treaty that allowed both countries to hold 18 inspections a year including at the bases of inter-continental ballistic missiles.

The New START treaty was prolonged in 2021 as soon as Joe Biden assumed office but the inspections never resumed.

01:30 PM

Nuclear missile crisis 'unavoidable without restraint' says Russia

There has been a flurry of ministerial statements from Russia today. Now, foreign ministry official Vladimir Ermakov says a nuclear missile crisis between Moscow and Washington was unavoidable without measures to ensure restraint and predictability, the TASS news agency has reported.

Mr Ermakov said that Nato was capable of rapidly deploying nuclear weapons that would be able to strike strategic targets in Russia.

"We continue to insist it is a priority to reach a principled understanding that the problems in this area must be urgently addressed. Otherwise, new 'missile crises' are unavoidable," he was quoted as saying.

This US Air Force photo shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile as it launches during a developmental test in California - Clayton WEAR / US AIR FORCE / AFP
This US Air Force photo shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile as it launches during a developmental test in California - Clayton WEAR / US AIR FORCE / AFP

Russia's security package, presented in December, included a proposal that it and the West should refrain from deploying short or intermediate-range (INF) nuclear missiles that could hit each other's territories.

Mr Ermakov said Moscow thought the United States was making preparations to deploy short or intermediate-range missiles to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

"We insist NATO's 'joint nuclear missions' must immediately be stopped, all the American nuclear arms returned to the United States, and the infrastructure that allows it to ensure a rapid deployment liquidated," Mr Ermakov was quoted as saying.

12:58 PM

Russia says even the thought of war is unacceptable

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that even the thought of a war breaking out between Russia and Ukraine was "unacceptable", the latest in a series of official statements aimed at quashing fears of a looming Russian invasion.

"We have already repeatedly stated that our country does not intend to attack anyone. We consider even the thought of a war between our people to be unacceptable," said Alexei Zaitsev, a spokesman for the ministry.

12:48 PM

Kremlin Spokesman 'not rushing to conclusions'

Russia has made it clear the United States is not willing to address its main security concerns but kept the door open for further dialogue in their standoff over Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not rush to draw conclusions after Washington formally responded to Russian proposals for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.

Describing tensions on the continent as reminiscent of the Cold War, Mr Peskov said it would take time for Moscow to review Wednesday's response from Washington, but he said the US and Nato's affirmations that Ukraine would not be barred from joining Nato did not leave much room for optimism.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov  - Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov - Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS

"Based on what our colleagues said yesterday, it's absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents... we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account," Mr Peskov said.

"But we won't rush with our assessments," he said.

12:26 PM

German threats over Nord Stream 2

Germany has vowed serious consequences for Russia if it invades Ukraine, with sanctions expected to hit the disputed Nord Stream 2 pipeline built to bring Russian gas to Europe.

"We are working on a strong package of sanctions" with Western allies, and it covers several aspects "including Nord Stream 2," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told parliament.

Nord Stream 2 is set to double supplies of cheap natural gas from Russia to Germany, which the EU's top economy says is needed to help transition away from coal and nuclear energy.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock -  REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock - REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

Germany's insistence over the years on the 10-billion-euro ($12 billion) gas pipeline had angered allies, who fear it would increase Europe's dependence on Russian supplies.

But with the drums of war getting louder, Germany's new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on his first day in office, warned of consequences for the pipeline if Russia made a move on Ukraine.

It was completed in September but Germany's energy regulator BNetzA has said the approval process for the pipeline is likely to drag into the second half of 2022.

12:11 PM

Nato considering deploying troops in Slovakia, foreign minister says

Nato is considering deploying some troops in Slovakia along with other countries on its eastern flank in response to the Russian military build-up near Ukraine, Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said on Thursday.

Korcok told reporters in a briefing shown on news website aktuality.sk that there had been no decisions taken, the situation was developing and the Nato member country's government had no position on the issue at the moment.

Ukrainian soldiers walks at the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Donetsk region - AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak
Ukrainian soldiers walks at the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Donetsk region - AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak

11:50 AM

Why might Russia invade Ukraine and what could happen next?

Boris Johnson confirmed on Tuesday that the UK would contribute to Nato deployments if Russia invades Ukraine.

Claiming Moscow has a "gun to Ukraine's head", the Prime Minister warned Vladimir Putin that he would not hesitate to "toughen our national sanctions" following a virtual meeting on Monday night with other Western leaders, including Joe Biden, the US president.

Here we break down how the crisis reached this point and what could be next.

11:29 AM

Everything you need to know

Hello, for those of you who are just joining us, here is a roundup of the day's key events so far:

  • Russia has said that the US' response to security concerns has not met Moscow's key demands on Ukraine.

  • The United States on Wednesday rejected Russia's key demand to bar Ukraine from Nato and said it believed Moscow was ready to invade.

  • The European Union has failed to reach an agreement over sending a military training mission to Ukraine .

  • China has told the US it wants to see all sides involved in Ukraine remain calm and avoid increasing tensions.

  • US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany "will not move forward" if Russia invades.

  • Russia is likely to remain on a diplomatic track with Ukraine and the West for at least two weeks following talks in Paris to de-escalate the situation, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

  • A Ukrainian national guard member has shot dead five people and injured several otherss.

11:12 AM

Kremlin sees some room for dialogue after US security response

The Kremlin said on Thursday there was room to continue dialogue with the United States.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was in both Moscow and Washington's interests to continue dialogue, though he said that remarks out of the US and Nato about Russia's main demands being unacceptable did not leave a lot of room for optimism.

"Based on what our colleagues said yesterday it's absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents... we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account," Mr Peskov said.

"We won't rush with our assessments," he said.

In separate comments, Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrovsaid that there was hope of starting serious dialogue, but only on secondary questions and not on the fundamental ones, Russian news agencies reported.

10:50 AM

How Putin’s sanction-proof Moscow leaves the West toothless

“Massive”, “enormous”, “maximum pain”, “severe”, “immediate”: the West is running out of ways to describe the raft of sanctions being readied if Russia decides to attack using some of the 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine.

With Nato and the US having ruled out sending their own soldiers into Ukraine, economic punishment and restrictions on officials - including, possibly Vladimir Putin - are all they have.

A new package of sanctions could include a ban on Russian banks trading in dollars, banning hi-tech US exports including iPhones to Russia, disconnecting Russia from the Swift bank transfer system and even issuing a travel ban for President Putin.

But Mr Putin is unlikely to be scared; he’s been preparing for it, after all, for years.

Read more here.

10:30 AM

Ukraine detains national guard kills five

A Ukrainian national guard member has shot dead five people and injured several others in the central city of Dnipro, amid severe security concerns over a possible Russian invasion, reports James Rothwell from Kyiv.

The shooting took place at the Pivdenmash weapon factory at around 3am while arms were being given to guards according to the Ukrainian interior ministry.

The ministry said the soldier had fired "for unknown reasons" and then fled the scene. After several hours on the run he has reportedly been arrested by police. Ukrainian officials said the attacker was born in 2001. "“The motives for the crime are not yet known,” they added.

Dnipro is one of Ukraine's largest cities and is based around 100 miles from the eastern frontline. It was not immediately clear on Thursday whether the shooting was connected with the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, which has amassed 100,000 troops at the border.

Western officials, however, have been concerned about Russia launching terrorist attacks or acts of sabotage inside Ukraine to be used as a pretext for invasion.

"Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion," Whire House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier this month.

10:10 AM

Ukraine separatists urge Russia to send modern weapons

A Ukrainian separatist leader on Thursday urged Russia to send modern weapons to the breakaway statelets to help them defend themselves against Western-backed Kyiv forces.

Denis Pushilin spoke after Russia's ruling party urged the Kremlin to start arming the separatist-held regions with tensions soaring between Moscow and the West.

"First and foremost, we need to counter the Bayraktars," he told pro-Kremlin spin doctor Vladimir Solovyov in an online interview, referring to Turkish-made drones.

A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman, looks on in a dugout on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists  - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman, looks on in a dugout on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

Solovyov said Russia was capable of supplying separatists with next generation weapons instead of Kalashnikov assault rifles and Soviet-era machine guns.

Pushilin said: "We need to talk about the weapons you mean."

Pushilin, the self-declared leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, accused Kyiv authorities of continuing to prepare for an offensive and stocking up on ammunition and fuel.

On Wednesday, a senior member of United Russia, Vladimir Vasilyev, said the governing party had asked the country's leadership to start arming Ukraine's separatist-held regions.

09:42 AM

Ukraine expects Russia to stay on diplomatic track

Russia is likely to remain on a diplomatic track with Ukraine and the West for at least two weeks following talks in Paris to de-escalate the situation, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday.

"Nothing has changed, this is the bad news," Kuleba said of the talks in Paris, where Moscow held security talks with diplomats from Ukraine, France and Germany on Wednesday.

"The good news is that advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track," he said at a news briefing in Copenhagen, following a meeting with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod.

The so-called "Normandy" talks in Paris were seen as a step toward defusing broader tensions in a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine that risks becoming a full-scale war.

"Unfortunately, the biggest demand that Russia has is that Ukraine engages directly in talks with Russian proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk instead of negotiating with Russia. This will not happen, this is a matter of principle," Kuleba said.

Donetsk and Luhansk are self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

09:35 AM

Nord Stream 2 'will not go ahead' if Russia invades

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Wednesday the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine, though he did not elaborate on whether Germany had taken the same position.

Washington worries Nord Stream 2 would increase Europe's reliance on Russia for gas.

US officials say they are in talks with major energy-producing countries and companies worldwide over a potential diversion of supplies to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine.

When asked about reports that the industry had little or no capacity to provide the required supplies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday the United States faced logistical challenges, especially around moving natural gas.

"That's part of our discussions with a lot of companies and countries," Ms Psaki said. "But again, these conversations are ongoing and we don't intend to fail."

09:18 AM

Russia stages military drills

Russia staged new military drills on land and on the Black Sea on Wednesday and moved more paratroopers and fighter jets to Belarus, north of Ukraine, for what it describes as joint exercises there next month.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow had not yet massed sufficient forces for a large-scale offensive, but that did not mean it could not do so later. Mr Blinken said Americans in Ukraine should consider leaving.

Russian tanks roll during a military exercising at a training ground in Rostov region, Russia - Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
Russian tanks roll during a military exercising at a training ground in Rostov region, Russia - Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

A day after the US delivered Javelin anti-tank missiles, launchers and other hardware to Ukraine, Germany came under criticism for saying it would supply Kyiv with 5,000 military helmets while stopping short of providing weapons.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Bild newspaper the German helmets were a joke. "What kind of support will Germany send next?" he asked. "Pillows?"

The spat highlights the complicated task the US faces in trying to build an agreement with European allies, who maintain strong business relations with Russia and rely heavily on it for energy, on a strong sanctions package if Moscow attacks.

08:57 AM

China: all sides must keep calm

China has told the US it wants to see all sides involved in Ukraine remain calm and avoid increasing tension while the US stressed de-escalation and warned of the security and economic risks from Russian aggression.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about Ukraine on a telephone call late on Wednesday.

"We call on all parties to stay calm and refrain from doing things that agitate tensions and hype up the crisis," Mr Wang told Blinken, China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United States and its Nato allies say they are ready to discuss arms control and confidence-building measures.

"Secretary Blinken ... conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward," Mr Blinken was quoted as saying to Wang in a statement issued by the US state department.

08:39 AM

EU fails to reach agreement on over sending a military training mission

The European Union has failed to reach an agreement over sending a military training mission to Ukraine amid mounting tensions with Russia, reports Joe Barnes, Brussels Correspondent.

Diplomats from the European External Action Service, the bloc’s foreign affairs arm, have drawn up plans to deploy up to 35 advisers to Kyiv to help it overhaul its Soviet-era military education system.

A paper presented by the EEAS described the training mission as having a “high political disability in Ukraine and demonstrates the EU engagement in the country”, but would not have been similar to the combat operations by the UK, US and Canada.

The common defence and security mission would be managed outside of the bloc’s presentation in the Ukrainian capital.

But the proposal was slapped down by at least four EU member states – Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain – who instead called for “assistance measures” to be funded through the EU’s European Peace Facility.

They were reportedly spooked by a line in the document that left the door open to uncertainty over wider EU policies in the region.

“The possible impact on the EU’s broader policies and the interests in the region is difficult to predict, especially in light of recent developments and increasing tensions caused by the build-up of Russians troops in and around Ukraine,” it said, according to the FT.

Using the European Peace Facility, Berlin said, would allow for faster deployment and skip months of bureaucracy in setting up common and control structures, but most importantly be less visible for the EU.

“This option would be more adapted to the current geopolitical circumstances,” the EEAS paper states.

Christofer Burger, a German foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin wanted “to quickly get EU support off the ground for the reform of Ukraine’s military training system”

He added Germany preferred the peace facility rather than a full military mission, because the latter “would not meet actual needs”.

08:27 AM

US rejects Russia's demand to bar Ukraine from Nato

The United States on Wednesday rejected Russia's key demand to bar Ukraine from Nato and said it believed Moscow was ready to invade but offered what it called a new "diplomatic path" out of the crisis.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would speak again in the coming days to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as a separate initiative by France brought a promise by Moscow at least to keep talking to Ukraine's government.

One month after Russia put forward sweeping security proposals, the United States delivered a reply in coordination with Nato allies and said it was ready for any eventuality.

"It sets out a serious diplomatic path forward should Russia choose it," Mr Blinken told reporters of the US response, which he said would remain confidential.

He renewed an offer on "reciprocal" measures to address mutual security concerns, including reductions of missiles in Europe and transparency on military drills and Western aid to Ukraine.

But he made clear that the United States would not budge on Russia's core demand that Ukraine never be allowed to join Nato, the US-backed military alliance.

"From our perspective, I can't be more clear - NATO's door is open, remains open, and that is our commitment," Mr Blinken said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting