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Russia holds military drills before four-way Ukraine talks in Paris -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A Russian military serviceman is seen sitting on a T-72B3 main combat tank, during military drills in Russia’s Rostov region. This was December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov/File Photo

Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW (Reuters), – Russia conducted military drills Wednesday. It sent more fighter jets and troops to Belarus to practice next month. Officials were preparing to meet in Paris for talks between the four countries about the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

In Paris, the Kremlin’s representative on Ukraine would meet with officials from France and Germany for “Normandy format” negotiations. This was against the background of Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine which has raised fears about an invasion.

Russia claims it doesn’t intend to invade. However, the West has warned of severe economic sanctions if this happens. American President Joe Biden stated Tuesday that he will review personal sanctions for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Britain, however, said Wednesday it was open to considering the possibility.

The Normandy talks between Kyiv’s separatists, Russia-backed, and the War in Eastern Ukraine were held for years but have not made any real progress. However Wednesday’s negotiations may be seen by some as an encouraging sign of diplomacy despite high tensions.

Russian markets were affected by the conflict in Ukraine, which led to a decline this week. The rouble dropped again Wednesday.

Interfax News Agency reported that Russia’s defence ministry had sent a paratrooper unit into Belarus on Wednesday. It did this one day after moving artillery and marines in preparation for the joint exercises next month. According to it, Russia is also sending Su-35 fighter planes to Belarus in preparation for “Allied Resolve.” exercises.

A new front is created by the Russian buildup in Belarus (north of Ukraine) for an attack.

According to the Defence Ministry, separate Russian artillery troops in the south Rostov that border Ukraine would practice firing on Wednesday, as part of combat readiness inspections of the Southern Military District.

According to the Northern Fleet, Russian warships entered Barents Sea, far north, in order to test their ability protect an important shipping channel in the Arctic. Moscow last week announced large-scale naval exercises.

Dmitry Kozak’s Kremlin representative for Ukraine said that the Paris talks would begin at 11:00 GMT. A news briefing is expected to follow after 13:00.

Andriy Ermak, the chief of staff for Ukrainian President Volodymr Zilenskiy said that Ukraine had ruled out speaking directly with Russian-backed separatists.

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