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Russian FM urges more talks with West amid Ukraine tensions

(In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, listens to German chancellor Olaf Scholz while posing for a photo during their meeting at The Mariinskyi Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Ukraine as part of a flurry of Western diplomacy aimed at heading off a feared Russian invasion that some warn could be just days away. Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

By YURAS KARMANAU and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, MOSCOW (AP):- Russia’s top diplomat advised President Vladimir Putin on Monday to continue talks with the West on Russian security demands amid tensions over Ukraine.

The statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to signal the Kremlin’s intention to stay on a diplomatic path even though the U.S. has warned that Moscow could invade Ukraine at any moment.

Speaking at the start of a meeting with Putin, Lavrov suggested that Moscow should maintain a dialogue with the U.S. and its allies even though they have rejected Russia’s main security demands.

Moscow wants guarantees from the West that NATO won’t allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members, and that the alliance will halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from Eastern Europe.

Lavrov noted that even though the U.S. and its allies have flatly rejected those demands, Washington has offered to conduct dialogue on limits for missile deployments in Europe, restrictions on military drills and other confidence-building measures.

Putin has yet to formulate Russia’s formal response to those proposals.

Asked by Putin if it made sense to continue diplomatic efforts, Lavrov responded that possibilities for talks “are far from being exhausted,” and he proposed to continue the negotiations.

The talks “can’t go on idefinitely, but I would suggest to continue and expand them at this stage,” Lavrov said.

Their meeting came as Germany’s chancellor began a trip to Kyiv and Moscow for a last-ditch attempt to head off a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine that some warn could be only days away.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Ukraine on Monday and plans to continue on to Moscow for talks with Putin. Moscow denies it has any plans to invade but has massed well over 130,000 troops near Ukraine and, in the U.S. view, has built up enough firepower to launch an attack on short notice.

“We are experiencing a very, very serious threat to peace in Europe,” Scholz tweeted from Kyiv, adding that Germany wanted to see “signals of de-escalation” from Moscow.

With concerns rising that war could be imminent, German’s military said the first of some 350 extra troops it is sending to bolster NATO forces in Lithuania were en route Monday. Six howitzer guns were also being loaded onto trucks for transport to the alliance’s eastern flank.

With the world already on high alert, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said a Russian attack could “effectively now happen with no notice.” That follows a warning from U.S. officials that an invasion could come this week — leading to a flurry of diplomacy but also deterrence measures.

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For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

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Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point
Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point
Information for Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point