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Ukraine Crisis Updates: What to Know Amid War Fears

High-stakes diplomacy continued on Friday in a bid to avert a war in Eastern Europe. The urgent efforts come as 100,000 Russian troops are massed near the Ukrainian border and the Biden administration fears Russian President Vladimir Putin could stage some kind of invasion within weeks.

Here are some things to know about international tensions around Ukraine.

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A DIPLOMATIC DEADLOCK

The head of Russian diplomacy said on Friday that Moscow would not start a war but that it would not allow the West to flout its security interests.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was little room for compromise after the West rejected key Russian demands that NATO would never accept Ukraine as a member and cancel deployments in Eastern Europe.

Lavrov said “if they say they won’t change their positions, we won’t change ours.”

The senior Russian diplomat, however, noted that the United States – in a recent written response to Russian requests – suggested that the two sides could discuss other important issues. These include limits on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles, restrictions on military exercises and rules to prevent accidents between warships and aircraft.

He stressed that these issues are secondary to Russia’s main demands.

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THE FRENCH CONNECTION

French President Emmanuel Macron talks to his Russian counterpart in the hope that diplomacy can avert a war.

Macron’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday morning has two purposes, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said earlier this week: “to continue the dialogue” and “to push Russia to clarify its position and purpose. maneuvers (military)”.

Macron “is at the heart of de-escalation efforts,” Attal added. He also said that Macron planned to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy soon.

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EXPOSE THE DISINFORMATION, BUT ARE THERE RISKS?

In a break with the past, the United States and its allies are increasingly revealing their intelligence findings as they confront Russian preparations to invade Ukraine, seeking to undermine Putin’s plans by exposing and exposing them. diverting its efforts to shape world opinion.

In recent weeks, the White House has gone public with what it said was developing a Russian false flag operation to create a pretext for an invasion.

Britain has named specific Ukrainians it has accused of having links to Russian intelligence agents plotting to overthrow President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The United States also released a map of Russian military positions and detailed how officials believe Russia will attempt to attack Ukraine with up to 175,000 troops.

But the dissemination of information is not without risks. Intelligence assessments come with varying degrees of certainty, and beyond offering photos of troop movements, the United States and its allies have provided little other evidence. Moscow dismissed Washington’s claims as hysteria and cited past failures of US intelligence, including false information about Iraq’s weapons programs.

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HOW IS THE UK STRENGTHENING ITS CYBER DEFENSES?

The UK’s National Cyber ​​​​Security Center is urging companies to step up measures to protect computer networks amid the current crisis in Ukraine.

The center said Friday it was investigating recent reports of “malicious cyber incidents” in Ukraine and that the attacks are similar to Russian behavior seen in past conflicts.

Although the authorities are not aware of any specific threats against the UK, the center encourages large organizations to strengthen online defenses to protect computer networks from potential attacks. The center is part of GCHQ, the UK’s signals intelligence agency.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and it is essential that organizations follow the guidelines to ensure they are resilient,” said Paul Chichester, NCSC’s chief operating officer. “Over several years, we have observed a pattern of malicious Russian behavior in cyberspace.”

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Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Danica Kirka in London contributed.


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