Biden and Putin in talks amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine
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Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are at the highest level since the Balkan country warned troops were amassing close to the border last month. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned of “massive consequences” from the G7 should Russia go ahead with plans to enter the former Soviet Union state, despite Russia repeatedly denying it has any plans for an invasion.
Ukraine has accused Russia of putting more than 100,000 troops at the border in what the West fears could be a repeat of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The G7 issued a statement over the weekend which read: “Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost.
“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the right of any sovereign state to determine its own future.”
But Russia doesn’t appear to be moved by threats from the West, despite President Biden warning of intense military retaliation.
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Why does Russia want to invade Ukraine?
There have been longstanding hostilities between the two since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The most recent tensions came after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 for the removal of President Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow ally, following widespread protests and unrest in the country.
Russia, although it has repeatedly denied doing so, retaliated by throwing its power behind a separatist group that broke out following the President’s removal.
More than 14,000 people died in the fight that ensued in Ukraine’s east, until a 2015 peace agreement by France and Germany put a stop to most of the conflict.
Russian officials have vowed to intervene if Ukraine attempts to retake the region, which Ukraine believes will be the main precedent for an invasion.
Mr Putin’s hatred of NATO is also a key driver, with one of the main aims of his presidency being to push back on its expansion to the east.
The Russian leader has said he wants international legal agreements to exclude any further NATO advances and the removal of backed weapons in Russia’s neighbouring countries.
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He said last week: “Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that rule out NATO expansion eastward and the deployment of offensive strike weapons systems in states adjacent to Russia.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki retaliated by saying: “NATO member countries decide who is a member of NATO, not Russia.
“That is how the process has always been and how it will proceed.”
The EU has also signalled it will take parallel steps in line with US action.
Why does Putin want to invade Ukraine?
Mr Putin has wide ambitions for Ukraine and has openly threatened Ukraine’s statehood before.
He has previously said Russia and Ukraine are “one people” due to their former alliance in the Soviet Union.
Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s continuous moves toward Europe, including demanding it never becomes a part of NATO or the European Union – both of which are long-term ambitions of Ukraine.
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