Russia will extend its military drills with Belarus because of rising violence in Ukraine’s Donbas region, the government in Minsk said, as Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted a new round of talks with Kyiv in the midst of warnings of an imminent Russian invasion.
Mr. Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron said after speaking Sunday that they agreed to continue seeking a diplomatic solution. Russia has amassed as many as 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, including some 30,000 for exercises in allied Belarus that were slated to end Sunday. Moscow demands that Kyiv abandon its aspirations to join NATO—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and give Russian proxies a major say in Ukraine’s future.
Sunday’s developments on the diplomatic front indicated that Mr. Putin could be willing to step back from the brink of war, at least in the immediate future, as he sought a face-saving end to the crisis. “Putin just started a new chapter,” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, a former Ukraine national-security adviser. “It’s a break that allows Putin to refocus, rethink and regroup before taking his next steps. The full war is unpredictable for him—you never know. It’s easy to start a war, but you never know how it will end.” [Continue reading…]