Portugal Colonial - More talks due as Putin accuses West of trying to draw Russia into war

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More talks due as Putin accuses West of trying to draw Russia into war
More talks due as Putin accuses West of trying to draw Russia into war

More talks due as Putin accuses West of trying to draw Russia into war

NATO leaders pursued diplomatic efforts on the Ukraine crisis Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin accused the West of trying to draw Russia into a war but left the door open to further talks.

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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.

Russia denies any plans to invade, instead accusing the West of failing to respect Moscow's security concerns on its borders.

Russian officials have put forward a series of demands to ease tensions, including bans on Ukraine joining NATO and the deployment of missile systems near Russia's borders, as well as a pullback of the US-led military alliance's forces in eastern Europe.

In his first major remarks on the crisis in weeks, Putin on 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.

"This can be done in different ways. Drawing us into some kind of armed conflict. And to force, among other things, their allies in Europe to impose the tough sanctions against us that the United States is talking about."

- Rush of visits to Ukraine -

Putin said he hoped that "in the end we will find a solution, although it will not be simple."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a phone call on Tuesday, with Lavrov saying afterwards that Washington had agreed to further discussions.

The United States and NATO have provided written responses to Moscow's demands, which Putin said he is studying.

In the meantime Western leaders have been rushing to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Johnson and the Polish prime minister were in Kyiv on Tuesday ahead of Rutte, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due in Ukraine on Thursday.

Erdogan will try to leverage his strategic position in NATO and rapport with Putin to help resolve the crisis, though Ankara's supplying of combat drones to Ukraine has angered Moscow.

The French and German foreign ministers are also expected in Ukraine next week, with plans for them to visit the frontline in the east where Kyiv's forces are battling Russian-backed separatists.

Putin has said that French President Emmanuel Macron could also be travelling to Moscow in the coming days.

Ukraine has been battling Moscow-backed insurgencies in two separatist regions since 2014, when Moscow annexed the peninsula of Crimea.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in the fighting, the last major ongoing war in Europe.