A “very urgent” danger of Russian invasion, which might create the greatest crisis since the Cold War, is being addressed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will arrive in Kyiv on Monday before travelling to Moscow to attempt to avert a “very critical” disaster.
In an effort to calm the drumbeats of conflict resonating throughout eastern Europe, the German leader visits the two capitals in the opposite sequence from that adopted by French President Emmanuel Macron last week in his efforts to bring peace to the region.
In a high-stakes confrontation with the West over NATO’s post-Soviet expansion into nations formerly under the Kremlin’s control, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ringed Ukraine from virtually all sides with more than 100,000 troops.
The West has stayed unified and stubborn in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands for enforceable security assurances, which would compel NATO to withdraw its soldiers and thus rule out Ukraine’s possible participation in the organisation.
However, U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that weeks of crisis negotiations have given Russia the opportunity to organise a strong onslaught if President Vladimir Putin decides to strike Ukraine in the near future.
President Barack Obama issued a new warning on Sunday, stating that Russia is now prepared to strike at “any moment” with an offensive that would most likely begin with “a huge bombardment of missiles and bomb assaults.”
On Sunday, President Joe Biden informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on his hour-long phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin the day before. According to the White House, Biden’s discussions with Putin did not break any new ground.
Officials from the United States claimed Biden and Zelenskiy “agreed on the need of continuing to seek diplomacy and deterrence” during their phone conversation.
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy had also requested Biden to visit Kyiv “in the next days,” according to the Ukrainian presidency, as a display of moral solidarity.
Europe’s two most powerful countries, Germany and France, have both played key roles in the mediation attempts surrounding Ukraine’s protracted struggle with separatists supported by Russia, which has killed more than 14,000 lives.
While the tight economic ties between Berlin and Moscow and the country’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports continue to worry Kyiv’s pro-Western politicians, Biden and his staff have expressed their dissatisfaction with Germany’s policies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has cautioned the country not to “underestimate our unity and resolve,” but Scholz has refrained from endorsing President Joe Biden’s demand for the “abolition” of Russia’s planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany.
Kiev is also dissatisfied with Berlin for refusing to join some of its NATO partners in supplying weaponry to Ukraine at the start of the conflict.
In the background of Scholz’s travel to Moscow on Tuesday will be a feud over the reciprocal shutdown of the Russian RT channel in German, as well as the German-language bureau of the German-language broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which took place on the same day.
Foreign diplomats from Western nations are being pulled out of Kiev embassies, with many of them advising their nationals to leave as soon as they can.
However, the impending prospect of the skies above Ukraine being closed owing to increased hazards for airlines may make departures more difficult to arrange.
The Dutch airline KLM became the first major airline to cease flights to Kyiv indefinitely over the weekend, becoming the first major airline to do so.
After the plane’s Irish leasing firm refused permission for it to enter into Ukraine, Ukraine’s budget airline SkyUp claimed its trip from Portugal to Kyiv was forced to land in Moldova on Sunday, according to the business.
SkyUp also said that European leasing firms were requesting that Ukrainian airlines return their jets to EU airspace within 48 hours, according to SkyUp.
As a result of the rising costs to insurers, industry experts fear that other foreign airlines may soon follow suit and suspend flights to Ukraine as well.
The memory of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), which was shot down over eastern Ukraine’s war zone in July 2014, continues to haunt the tourism sector.
The Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur aeroplane was carrying 298 passengers and crew members when it was shot down.
The personnel of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission in Ukraine has also been affected by the diplomatic retrenchment.