Ukraine: Moscow says no plans yet for Putin-Biden meet
Russia said there were no plans yet for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin following news that the two leaders would meet to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
"No, so far there are no concrete plans on that account," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Monday.
"Of course, we do not rule it out," Peskov said, noting that a meeting was "possible if the heads of state consider it appropriate."
Peskov also said that Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could meet his Western counterparts this week, including US State Secretary Anthony Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Paris says Biden and Putin accepted 'the principle of such a summit'
Hours before,the French Elysee Palace and the White House said that US president Joe Biden and Russia's Vladimir Putin agreed to a proposal to hold a US-Russia summit on Ukraine.
Both Biden and Putin, whom Macron spoke to in separate phone calls on Sunday, have "each accepted the principle of such a summit," the Elysee said in a statement early Monday.
"[The summit] can only be held if Russia does not invade Ukraine," it added.
Washington confirmed it is "committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. "President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin... if an invasion hasn't happened."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are also scheduled to meet on Thursday. The Elysee said the content of the proposed US-Russia summit will be planned by Blinken and Lavrov.
Early on Monday, the White House said Biden would participate in a virtual G7 leaders' meeting held on February 24 to discuss the situation regarding Russia and Ukraine.
A need 'to intensify' diplomacy
Earlier on Sunday, Macron and Putin agreed to intensify the search for solutions to the Ukraine standoff during a nearly two-hour phone call.
The pair agreed on "the need to favor a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and to do everything to achieve one," Macron's office said, adding that both countries' foreign ministers would meet "in the coming days."
According to the Kremlin's version of the call, Putin blamed Kyiv for a military escalation in eastern Ukraine and agreed on the need to "intensify efforts to find solutions through diplomatic means."
Moscow said the talks would take place in the Normandy format, meaning with representatives of Russia and Ukraine under Franco-German moderation.
Macron then called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, just a day after Kyiv said it would not respond to what it called Russia's "provocations," according to the Elysee, and remained open to "dialogue" with Moscow.
The two leaders discussed the "need and possible ways of immediate de-escalation," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, Zelenskyy called on Putin to meet him and seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
EU chief: Russia could lose financial market access
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that Russia would be cut off from international financial markets and denied access to major export goods if it invaded Ukraine.
"Russia would in principle be cut off from the international financial markets," von der Leyen told German public broadcaster ARD.
Von der Leyen went on to say that sanctions would be imposed on "all goods we make that Russia urgently needs to modernize and diversify its economy, where we are globally dominant and they have no replacement."
She added that sanctions would not be imposed until after an invasion. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy had called for immediate sanctions on Saturday.
"The move to sanctions is so enormous and consequential that we know we must always give Russia a chance to return to diplomacy and the negotiating table," she said.
"This window is still open."
Meanwhile, Reuters news agency reported, citing unnamed sources, that the US has prepared an initial package of sanctions against Russia.
According to Reuters, the measures are set to include barring US financial institutions from processing transactions for major Russian banks, and would only be imposed in case of an invasion.
Russia: Western countries should 'come to reason'
Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said there was "no point of Russia attacking someone." He urged Western partners to "come to reason."
"But let's remind that throughout its history, Russia has never attacked anyone. And Russia, which has survived so many wars, is the last country in Europe that wants to talk at all, even to say the word war," Peskov told the state-run Russia 1 broadcaster.
European Council President Charles Michel said, "The big question remains: does the Kremlin want dialogue?"
"We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops," Michel said at the Munich Security Conference.
He said, "One thing is certain: if there is further military aggression, we will react with massive sanctions."
French President Macron is expected to discuss the crisis with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz later on Sunday.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) is expected to hold Ukraine talks on Monday.
Blinken: All signs suggest Russia on the brink of invading Ukraine
US Secretary of State Blinken told CNN on Sunday that "everything we're seeing suggests that this is dead serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion [of Ukraine]."
"But until the tanks are actually rolling and the planes are flying, we will use every opportunity and every minute we have to see if diplomacy can still dissuade President Putin from carrying this forward."
Blinken insisted that the deterrent impact of sanctions would be lost if they are triggered before an invasion despite Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's passionate plea on Saturday to unleash them.
Blinken told ABC's "This Week" that US President Joe Biden has made "very clear that he's prepared to meet President Putin at any time, in any format, if that can help prevent a war."
Americans in Russia told to have evacuation plans
The US embassy in Russia cautioned Americans to have evacuation plans, citing the threat of attacks in Moscow and along the Russian border with Ukraine.
"There have been threats of attacks against shopping centers, railway and metro stations, and other public gathering places in major urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as in areas of heightened tension along the Russian border with Ukraine," the embassy said.
"Review your personal security plans," the embassy said. "Have evacuation plans that do not rely on US government assistance."
The guidance was criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova questioned if the US embassy had passed on the information about possible attacks to Russian authorities.
"And if not, how is one to understand all of this?" she said.
A diplomatic end has 'best interest for all'
Speaking to media after attending the Munich Security Conference, US Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday said she hopes an invasion of Ukraine could still be prevented.
"We would all not just prefer, we desire, we believe that it is in the best interest for all that there is a diplomatic end to this moment," she said.
Harris said it was important not to underestimate the significance: "We are talking about the real possibility for war in Europe."
She was returning to the US on Sunday to participate in the National Security Council meeting.
Ukraine says it's time to implement some sanctions against Russia
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro said that it was time for the West to implement at least part of its sanctions against Russia.
"Russia has to be stopped right now. We see how events are unfolding," Kuleba said.
His statement at the Munich Security Conference came soon after Russia and Belarus announced an extension of military drills near Ukrainian borders.
"It's time to act. I'm officially saying that there are all the grounds to implement at least a part of sanctions prepared against Russia, now," Kuleba said.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that Putin might not be thinking logically, so the threat of sanctions may not be enough to deter a Russian invasion.
"We have to accept at the moment that Vladimir Putin is possibly thinking illogically about this and doesn't see the disaster ahead," Johnson said.
The US and Britain would stop Russian companies from "trading in pounds and dollars," a move that Johnson said would "hit very, very hard."
Latvia and Lithuania also call for sanctions
Latvia and Lithuania have also urged Western allies to impose sanctions on Russia with immediate effect.
The decision to keep Russian troops in Belarus for joint military exercises that had been scheduled to end on Sunday is a "game-changer for security of NATO countries bordering Belarus," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis tweeted on Sunday.
"NATO reinforcements and EU sanctions are in order," he added.
"It is clear that the trans-Atlantic community needs to begin implementing sanctions against Russia and NATO should deploy more forces in the region," his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics on Twitter.
Donbas sees the worst shelling in years
Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas have claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed two civilians.
The incident occurred in Pionorskoye in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, a spokesperson told Russian news agency Interfax on Sunday.
Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels have reported increased shelling in the east over the last few days.
Kyiv said two Ukrainian servicemen died from injuries sustained from the shelling, while another four servicemen were injured and receiving treatment.
Leaders of Luhansk and Donetsk ordered a full military mobilization on Saturday.
Washington and other Western allies say the apparent flare-up could form part of a Russian pretext to invade Ukraine.
UEFA Champions League final in Russia
European football governing body UEFA said there are "currently no plans" to move the Champions League final from Russia.
The final is scheduled for May 28 in the St Petersburg Arena.
UEFA told the German dpa press agency it would continue to monitor the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
jsi, lo/fb (AFP, AP, dpa, Interfax, Reuters)