Biden and Putin showdown set as they meet to discuss nightmare scenario threat

Ukraine invasion fears as Putin faces Covid backlash in Russia

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The US President will attempt to de-escalate tensions after Russia’s foreign minister warned of a “nightmare scenario” in eastern Europe. The high-profile bilateral talks come after Anthony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov clashed over Ukraine on Thursday. Although the US warned Russia must end its military build-up, Russia’s foreign minister claimed Washington is at risk of taking Europe back to the “nightmare” of a military conflict.

Amid fears of a large Russian military presence in the Donbas region, Mr Putin and the US President will hold virtual talks in the coming days, Politico reports.

Mr Lavrov met with his US counterpart at a conference of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe this week.

On Thursday, Mr Lavrov warned Nato was refusing to de-escalate tensions to prevent a possible conflict.

Speaking at the conference in Stockholm, Mr Lavrov said: “The alliance’s military infrastructure is being irresponsibly brought closer to Russia’s borders in Romania and Poland, deploying an anti-missile defence system that can be used as a strike complex.

“American medium-range missiles are about to appear in Europe, bringing back the nightmare scenario of a military confrontation.

“No one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others.

“Further advance of NATO to the east will unambiguously affect the fundamental interests of our security.”

Ukrainian officials have warned up to 100,000 Russian troops have massed on the border in the Donbas region and the Crimea.

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Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has backed separatist forces in the Donbas region of the country.

US intelligence officials reportedly told their EU counterparts last month they expected an invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Blinken said on Thursday: “We have deep concerns about Russia’s plans for renewed aggression against Ukraine.

“We have a strong, ironclad commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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“The best way to avert a crisis is through diplomacy.

“The United States is willing to facilitate diplomacy but if Russia decides to pursue confrontation there will be serious consequences.”

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky has called for direct talks with Russia amid the rise in military personnel.

He said: “We must tell the truth that we will not be able to end the war without direct talks with Russia.

“Let’s be honest, the war in Donbass has been going on for eight years. Eight years since Russia annexed Crimea.

“We must talk, knowing that we have a strong and powerful army.”

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