Russia: Ambassador to UK denies Ukraine ‘invasion’ plan

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The europhile French president insisted that countries must be ready to impose sanctions in case of “unacceptable behaviour” – referring to Vladimir Putin’s warmongering actions in Ukraine. The long-standing Russian president has sent thousands of troops, tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine’s eastern border as the tentative 2015 ceasefire looks likely to revert into a full-blown war.

This escalation prompted the US president to dispatch two US Navy warships to the Black Sea – as a mark of solidarity with Ukraine and its western-looking government.

Speaking to CBS, Mr Macron said the world needed to make it clear to Moscow that while it preferred “open and frank dialogue,” it will not shy from imposing sanctions after any “unacceptable behaviour.”

“Indeed, we have to sanction. This is what we did after (Russia annexed Crimea in 2014) or after a series of crises which happen,” he added.

“And I think we have to define clear red lines with Russia. This is the only way to be credible.”

He added: “I think that sanctions are not sufficient in itself, in themselves, but sanctions are part of the package.

“I do prefer constructive dialogue, but to have a constructive and efficient dialogue, you need credibility.”

Mr Macron spoke after Mr Biden announced financial sanctions against Moscow and the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats over a massive series of cyber attacks against US targets.

In addition, eight people linked to the “occupation” of Crimea were sanctioned.

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They were also linked to Russian interference in American elections.

The Kremlin, which has also expelled 30 American diplomats, denies all the allegations and blames the West for its provocative actions.

The tit-for-tat expulsions led the US to up the ante on Friday by issuing a stark warning to Russia.

It said: “Our recent actions were proportionate and appropriate to Russia’s harmful activities.

“Today’s announcement by the Russian government was escalatory and regrettable.

“It is not in our interest to get into an escalatory cycle, but we reserve the right to respond to any Russian retaliation against the United States.”

Since taking office Mr Biden has also expelled a further 10 Russian diplomats and banned US companies from the country.

It comes after Moscow said it will restrict the number of short-term visas for State Department staff based in the country to 10 per year.

It will also ban the US embassy from hiring Russian citizens and people from third countries as administrative staff.

US diplomats’ freedom to move around the country has also been curtailed.

This breaches the “open ground” memorandum of 1992, allowing US diplomats to move freely around Russia.

Mr Macron’s full interview will be shown later today.

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