Western powers back Ukraine amid invasion fears

Western powers have called on Russia to lower tensions with Ukraine, ahead of a video call between US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Responding to fears of a Russian invasion, Mr Biden agreed with leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy to use “all the tools at their disposal”.
Moscow denies it has plans to attack.
But, Russia has moved thousands of troops near Ukraine’s eastern borders, and Ukraine says tanks have been moved to the front line inside its territory.
Hours before the video talks scheduled for 15:00 GMT, it appeared Washington was not planning a US military response, but focusing instead on tough economic sanctions.
In a conference call on Monday night, the White House said the five Western leaders had formed a joint strategy “to impose significant and severe harm on the Russian economy” should Russia launch an invasion.
They “reaffirmed their staunch support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity”, Downing Street said.
Possible measures include restrictions on Russia’s banks converting rubles into foreign currencies, or even disconnecting Russia from the Swift global financial payment system, reports say.
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has condemned talk of a Russian incursion as “shallow and unfounded”.
Russia wants guarantees that Ukraine will not try to seize areas captured by Russian-backed separatists in 2014 and has warned the West not to cross “red lines” by adding Ukraine to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO’s) military alliance.
More than 90,000 Russian troops are believed to be massed near Ukraine’s borders.
A large part of the recent Russian military build-up is in Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine and then annexed in 2014.
Troops are also gathering near Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the name for parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions under the control of Russian-backed separatists. -BBC

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