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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
In a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believes diplomatic negotiations with the West over the Ukraine situation “are far from exhausted,” adding he would “propose continuing and building them up.” In a potential sign of de-escalation early Tuesday morning, Russia’s Defense Ministry said some troops currently deployed near the Ukraine border would return to their bases. It’s unclear how many soldiers are covered by the order, and other Russian military exercises remain ongoing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday the United States was “in the process” of temporarily relocating its embassy operations in Ukraine from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv due to “the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sought to downplay the likelihood of Ukraine joining NATO after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday. “The question of [Ukrainian] membership in alliances is practically not on the agenda,” he told reporters. “And that is why it is strange to observe that the Russian government is making something that is practically not on the agenda the subject of major political problems.” Zelensky called NATO membership a distant “dream” for Ukraine, but “not the absolute goal.” Scholz is scheduled to meet with Putin today.