Russia, US wage mind games over Ukraine

War clouds hovered over Ukraine on Sunday with both Russia and the US deepening their mind games over a possible invasion of Kyiv by Moscow. While Russia extended its military drill in Belarus involving a large number of troops, which was originally scheduled to end on Sunday, the US said Putin’s playbook for invasion of Ukraine is unfolding slowly but surely. “Everything leading up to the actual invasion appears to be taking place,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but quickly added that there’s still room for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

However, other Western leaders warned Russia that chances of a meaningful dialogue are slim as long as it keeps stirring up tensions. “We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops,” said Charles Michel, president, European Council.

Heightened tensions persisted in the region as heavy shelling continued in eastern Ukraine due to a stand-off between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces.

Meanwhile, the Indian embassy in Kyiv advised its citizens to leave the country temporarily if their stay is not essential. “Available commercial flights and charter flights may be availed for travel for orderly and timely departure,” said an embassy statement. Air India will operate three special flights to Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport on February 22, 24 and 26.

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