"Normandy format" talks without the United States are planned for Tuesday between political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France on the subject of the eastern Ukraine, a source in Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration said Saturday, according to Reuters.
The world is on edge as aggression mounts in the region. The four-way peace talks planned this week come during elevated tensions between Russia and the Western nations over Ukraine and are seeking a solution to the longrunning conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Ukraine chief negotiator Andriy Yermak's adviser Mykhailo Podolyak had confirmed that a meeting in Paris was planned but told Reuters that a preliminary date had been set for Jan. 26 before the Jan. 25 meeting date was decided.
According to Reuters, "Western countries are concerned by a Russia military build-up on the border and have warned of severe economic consequences if it invades its neighbour. Russia denies it plans to invade Ukraine but is demanding legally binding security guarantees from the United States and NATO."
"Relations between Russia and Ukraine collapsed in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and Moscow-backed forces seized territory in the Donbass region that Kyiv wants back," Reuters explains in the report.
Reuters further reports that Dmitri Kozak, who is Russia's top negotiator, will be representing Russia in the peace talks, according to the report's source.
According to TASS, the Russian news agency, the United States has previously expressed interest in participating in these peace talks.
During a press conference Wednesday, American President Joe Biden was asked about how the United States intends to handle any Russian invasion of Ukraine. In response to Biden's answer, it was reported that officials in Kyiv were "shocked" and "stunned" by the statements, deemed a "green light" to Putin.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki couldn't give an exact number when she was asked Friday how many Americans are currently in Ukraine. The Biden spokeswoman was grilled on US readiness to evacuate Americans from Ukraine.
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