Kiev/Moscow, Feb 14 (EFE).- Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday reiterated his country’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as high-level diplomatic efforts to de-escalate soaring tensions around a build-up of Russian military along the Ukraine border continued.
Scholz traveled to Kiev to meet with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a scheduled trip to Moscow on Tuesday, where he will hold discussions with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is non-negotiable,” the German chancellor said during a joint press conference, adding that he expected Russia to demonstrate clear steps to de-escalate the situation in the region and threatened far-reaching consequences should it invade.
He emphasized Germany’s close support of Ukraine and announced 150 million euros would be allocated to the country immediately, followed by another 150 million euros in credit.
Zelenskyy called for legal guarantees to protect Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian leader said that his country’s Nato aspirations would not be determined by Russia’s actions.
“Many journalists and leaders hint to Ukraine that we shouldn’t take risky moves, shouldn’t raise the issue of Nato membership all the time, because these risks are connected with Russia,” he said.
Zelensky also criticized the decision of some countries, including the United States, to move their embassies from the capital Kiev to Lviv in western Ukraine amid fears of an imminent conflict.
DEVELOPMENTS IN MOSCOW
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov on Monday told Putin that reaching an agreement with the United States and Nato on key security guarantees demanded by Moscow, which include a halt to Nato expansion in the region, was still possible and that diplomatic routes out of the stand-off had not been exhausted.
The meeting, broadcast on Russian public television, saw Lavrov telling the Kremlin chief that Russia will continue to seek answers concerning security issues in Europe.
“We, both you and other Russian representatives, have repeatedly said that we warn about the inadmissibility of endless talk on issues that need to be settled today,” Lavrov told Putin.
“I don’t think our possibilities have been exhausted, but, naturally, they should not last endlessly. However, I would suggest we continue these efforts at this stage,” he said.
With fears of a Russian invasion sky-high, a raft of countries have ordered their citizens to abandon Ukraine as soon as possible.
Japan on Monday urged its citizens to leave the country, echoing government recommendations from Spain, Israel, the US, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Italy.
The stand-off has also prompted international airlines to review their services to Ukraine.
No major British airlines, including British Airways, are servicing commercial routes to Ukraine, the British Armed Forces minister James Heappey told UK media on Monday.
The Germany-based Lufthansa group told Efe it was monitoring the security situation closely but continued to operate flights to its three Ukrainian destinations Kiev, Lviv and Odessa. EFE