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Ukraine tensions leave Western allies looking for responses

Western leaders are still trying to figure out what their response would be should Russia launch an invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks, as multiple experts and analysts warn could happen.

Ukraine and Russia have been in a simmering stand-off since 2014, when Russian troops annexed the Crimean Peninsula and pro-Russian separatists took control of two eastern Ukrainian territories.

Despite ceasefires, violence continues to flare up.

Experts have been warning for weeks that Russia, which has massed troops near the Ukrainian border, could be preparing another assault.

Russia denies the charges and counters that Ukraine is the threatening party thanks to recent invitations to allow NATO troops to perform exercises on its territory.

In comments to the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said a Russian invasion could prompt Berlin to rethink its cooperation with Russia on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

The controversial pipeline, which is set to deliver gas straight from Russia to Germany, has annoyed allies. The US says it will make Europe further dependent on Russia. Ukraine, which relies on income and influence from Russian gas lines crossing its territory, worries that it is being sidelined.

The pipeline is not in use yet, pending approval from German regulators. Although German officials have stressed that the decision is a non-political one to be taken by a regulatory body, Habeck said that could change in the case of an invasion.

“We can’t ban any trains of thought” in such a case, he said.

However, the news on Saturday wasn’t all positive for Ukraine.

Britain’s Press Association reported that British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gave an interview with the Spectator, in which Wallace said Ukraine “is not a member of NATO, so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to send troops into Ukraine to challenge Russia

“We shouldn’t kid people we would. The Ukrainians are aware of that,” he said, in comments that were shared before publication.

The day before, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had told Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone that any destabilizing activity aimed at Ukraine by Russia would be a “strategic mistake.”

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