US mediation on Russian-Ukraine conflict

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There are new signs of hope in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has gestured that he is not opposed to a summit meeting with US President Joe Biden this summer. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Russian television that the Kremlin had received Biden’s proposal positively. Both Austria and Finland, which are militarily neutral, have put themselves forward as potential hosts. The Russian military carried out drills in Crimea, which Russia occupied from Ukraine in 2014, and said troops would leave the region following the exercises. Russia also indicated that it would close off the Sea of Azov, throttling the only access that the vital Ukrainian port of Mariupol has to the Black Sea. Russian-Ukrainian relations now are certainly hostile, but it is not all-out war. There are sporadic clashes on the front line. Since the collapse of communism in 1991, Russian troops have intervened in conflicts in several areas of the former Soviet Union, notably in Chechnya and other parts of the Caucasus. In April 2014, just after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, pro-Russian separatists seized a large swathe of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Earlier, months of pro-Western demonstrations in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv had forced out a pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. In 2014 there was a Russian plan to split Ukraine and create an entity called “Novorossiya” (New Russia) – a plan foiled by Ukraine’s armed forces. The conflict zone, known as Donbas, is mainly Russian-speaking and now many of its residents have Russian passports. President Putin says Russia will defend Russian citizens abroad, if they are seen to be at risk. Currently, Facing what appeared to be an acute threat, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy began looking for more international support. While calling on Paris and Berlin to establish another summit in the Normandy-format meeting, he also told the British newspaper that he was open to Washington assuming a greater role in negotiations. According to few analysts,  Increased US involvement does not take away from the position of the European countries role as a mediator. Still it is unclear what will happen and who will take the lead in mediation. All eyes are focused on the courtiers involved.

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