(Bloomberg) -- The Italian government asked a group of top business leaders not to meet virtually with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Germany and France pursue efforts to broker a peaceful resolution to the tensions over Ukraine.
Top political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France will hold talks in Paris later on Wednesday in the so-called Normandy format grouping the four nations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to speak in the lower house of parliament in Moscow.
Russia has denied it intends to invade Ukraine, despite massing thousands of troops, tanks and equipment near its neighbor’s eastern border. The Kremlin has demanded concessions from NATO, including a guarantee the alliance won’t add Ukraine as a member and a rollback of forces from former Soviet states.
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All times CET.
Italy Asks CEOs Not to Meet With Putin (9 a.m.)
The online meeting, organized by the Italy-Russia Chamber of Commerce, is a private initiative and neither the Italian ambassador to Moscow nor other government representatives are scheduled to attend, according to an Italian official.
Top executives including Enel SpA Chief Executive Officer Francesco Starace and UniCredit SpA CEO Andrea Orcel are due to participate in the event, aimed at promoting “further development of commercial, economic and industrial ties.”
Russia Buildup at ‘Highest Level’: Janes (8:45 a.m.)
Russian forces are intensifying their build-up near Ukraine to the “highest level” yet, according to defense-intelligence firm Janes.
Russia has indicated it will move six tank-landing ships, a cruiser and a destroyer into the Mediterranean Sea, from where they can easily sail to the Black Sea, London-based Janes said by email.
A mass deployment of forces is also taking place in Belarus under the guise of exercises, including at least two battalions equipped with ballistic missiles, long-range multiple rocket launchers and a large number of battle tanks, it said.
U.K. Not Ruling Out Sanctions on Putin: Truss (8:20 a.m.)
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the U.K. would consider imposing individual sanctions on Putin if there was a Russian incursion into Ukraine. Asked about the prospect, also raised Tuesday by U.S. President Joe Biden, she told Sky News: “We are not ruling anything out.”
“We will be bringing forward new legislation to make our sanctions regime tougher so we are able to target more companies and individuals in Russia,” Truss said. “We’ll be bringing that forward in the next few days.”Russian Troops Start Exercises Near Ukraine Border (8 a.m.)
Russian Troops Start Exercises Near Ukraine Border (8 a.m.)
Russia said more than 1,000 infantry troops were mobilized in a snap exercise in the southern Rostov region near the border with Ukraine Wednesday, one of a series of maneuvers announced by the military, according to local news reports.
The actions were routine and also included deployment of paratroopers and Su-35 fighters to Belarus for joint maneuvers there. Those operations should not cause any concern, despite the tensions around Ukraine, Interfax cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying last week.
‘Touch and Go’ Whether War Can be Averted (8 a.m.)
It’s not too late to prevent armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine but it’s “touch and go” and the coming days and weeks will be crucial, according to Lars Klingbeil, the co-leader of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party.
In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Klingbeil defended the German government’s reluctance to discuss the specifics of possible sanctions on Russia publicly, saying that anyone who criticizes that strategy “hasn’t understood how international politics works.”
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