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Kyiv-bound, UK’s Johnson vows to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Boris Johnson, British Prime Minster, steps outside the 10 Downing Street building in London, Britain. January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters – The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting Kyiv to vow that Ukraine will uphold its sovereignty. This is part of West’s diplomatic effort to stop a Russian invasion, which Moscow claims there’s no evidence it’s planning.

The announcement comes just as the United States has stated that it is currently in active talks with allies over possible U.S. troop mobilizations to NATO’s Eastern flank. This would be separate from 8,500 forces placed on alert last Friday.

Russia, who seized Crimea, Ukraine, in 2014, supports separatists within the east, and is asking for security guarantees. This includes a guarantee that NATO will not admit Kyiv.

As Washington and Moscow battle over post-Cold War European security arrangements and energy supply concerns, the United States said that Ukraine is unlikely to join soon.

Tensions were high at Monday’s United Nations Security Council meeting over Ukraine’s troop buildup. The United States and Russia used this international forum to call each other “provocative”.

Johnson faces calls for his resignation over the gatherings that were held at his offices in violation of lockdown rules. Johnson will be meeting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zeleskiy, as he discusses Britain’s international role in the global world.

“We urge Russia to step back and engage in dialogue to find a diplomatic resolution and avoid further bloodshed,” he said in remarks released ahead of his arrival.

“As friend and democratic partner, the UK will keep Ukraine’s sovereignty upheld in the face of all those who want to take it away.”

Johnson and Zelenskiy will discuss what kind of strategic support Britain might offer Ukraine.

London provided Ukraine with training and weapons personnel as well as defensive equipment, but ministers stated that it is not likely for Ukraine to deploy combat troops.

Britain and the United States announced on Monday they would punish Russian officials close to Vladimir Putin, with travel bans and asset freezes, if Russia invades Ukraine.

Poland claimed that it offered Ukraine thousands of munitions and is awaiting an answer.

As tensions over Ukraine heightened, the United States ordered family members of government workers in Belarus to flee.

Additional diplomatic efforts can be expected Tuesday.

According to Downing Street, the call between Johnson and Putin that had been scheduled for Monday may now take place on Tuesday.

During a Monday exchange, Macron of France and Putin met to discuss the implementation of Minsk Agreements regarding Donbass. This is an area in eastern Ukraine that Moscow supported separatist fighters.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, will speak to Antony Blinken, Secretary of State.

On Monday, the State Department stated that Russia had sent a letter of follow-up to it after Washington responded last week.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson had stated previously that NATO and the U.S. statements calling Russia’s demands unacceptable were not encouraging.

The United States indicated that they would not make public comments on the response at this point.

According to a spokesperson from the State Department, “It would not be productive to negotiate publicly so we’ll let it go to Russia if [they] want to discuss their reply.”

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