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Putin discusses Ukraine crisis with Biden, Macron as more countries urge evacuation of nationals

President Vladimir Putin

Moscow, Russia | Xinhua | Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday discussed the Ukraine crisis with U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron respectively over the phone as tensions continue to escalate between Russia and Ukraine.

During these conversations, Putin reiterated the absence of a substantive response from the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Russian initiatives in addressing its security concerns, while agreeing to continue dialogue and contacts with the other two leaders.

The deteriorating situation surrounding the Russia-Ukraine borders has stoked worries of a military conflict, prompting some countries to evacuate their nationals from Ukraine.

DISAGREEMENTS UNRESOLVED

As the whole world is on tenterhooks speculating about how the Ukraine situation may evolve, the phone calls on Saturday between Putin, Biden and Macron offered another glimpse into the differences and disagreements among some major stakeholder of the crisis.

According to the White House, during his call with Putin, which lasted for about one hour, Biden made it clear that “while the United States remains prepared to engage in diplomacy,” it is “equally prepared for other scenarios.”

At the same time, quoting Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, Sputnik reported that Russia has not received a substantive response from the United States on security guarantees.

In another phone call between Putin and Macron, the two leader discussed the speculations about Russia’s alleged planned “invasion” of Ukraine, speculations sparked by massive supplies of modern weaponry to Ukraine, thus creating conditions for possible aggressive actions by the Ukrainian military in Donbass, according to a Kremlin statement.

“Putin stressed the reluctance of the leading Western powers to prompt the Kiev authorities to implement the Minsk agreements, which was demonstrated again by the futility of the Feb. 10 round of consultations in Berlin between political advisors to the Normandy format leaders,” said the statement.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that if the West fails to resolve Moscow’s fundamental security concerns, it will be impossible to reduce tensions and build Europe’s security architecture.

While it seems that the phone calls haven’t contributed much to thawing the tensions, they do provide some comfort, more or less, as the leaders agreed to maintain contacts and dialogue.

FOREIGNERS RUSHING OUT

As the tensions show no sign of easing, some countries have been increasingly concerned about the lingering confrontations and started contemplating evacuations of their nationals from Ukraine.

On Saturday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning for Ukraine, urging Israeli citizens to leave the country as soon as possible. Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz had ordered the Israeli military to prepare to assist in such an operation, according to Israeli media reports.

Albania has made the same decision. Also on Saturday, the country’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs called on Albanian nationals in Ukraine to leave the country “as soon as possible,” advising Albanians not to travel to Ukraine due to a “credible danger of the escalation of the situation.”

Iraq also urged its citizens in Ukraine to leave. “For the safety of the Iraqi community in Ukraine, and as a result of the exceptional circumstances there, the ministry urges the community to leave Ukrainian territory and not to travel to it,” the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday.

On the same day, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said on its website that in light of the current situation and for their own safety, Moroccan citizens in Ukraine are asked to leave via available commercial flights.

The United States was among the first countries to order evacuations. The U.S. State Department on Thursday urged Americans currently in Ukraine to leave the country “now.”

On Friday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that U.S. nationals should evacuate within 48 hours, citing unspecified intelligence purporting a Russian invasion of Ukraine at any moment, which Moscow has refuted before, saying “this hysteria is being boosted artificially.”

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Xinhua

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