US trying to lure Russia into war
Nato leaders pursued diplomatic efforts on the Ukraine crisis yesterday after President Vladimir Putin accused the West of trying to draw Russia into a war but left the door open to further talks.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to talk by phone to Putin a day after visiting Kyiv, where Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was the latest Nato leader to visit in shows of solidarity with Ukraine.
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomacy to avert a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine, after Moscow amassed tens of thousands of troops on the pro-Western country's borders.
Western leaders have warned that any attack would be met with "severe consequences" including wide-ranging economic sanctions.
In his first major remarks on the crisis in weeks, Putin on late Tuesday accused the West of ignoring Russia's demands and suggested Washington was using Ukraine as an instrument to potentially draw Moscow into a conflict.
"Ukraine itself is just a tool to achieve this goal" of containing Russia, Putin said at a press conference with the Hungarian leader.
Putin said he hoped that "in the end we will find a solution, although it will not be simple."
The Kremlin said yesterday that China would back Russia over its security concerns with the West when Putin visits for the opening of the Winter Olympics this week.