Lufthansa says it is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine and is considering suspending its flights. At the moment, however, there is no decision on this, the company says on request. Dutch airline KLM said on Saturday it was stopping flights to Ukraine with immediate effect.
Amid tensions, Russia said on Saturday it had chased a US submarine from its own territorial waters in the Pacific. The destroyer “Marshal Shaposhnikov” had spotted a submarine in Russian waters near the Kuril Islands, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow announced on Saturday.
After the submarine ignored requests to turn back, the Russian destroyer “took appropriate action”, he said without giving further details. The submarine then leaves Russian waters “at full speed”. At the time, Russian naval exercises were planned near Urup Island, which belongs to Russia. Later, the US military attache was summoned to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow and delivered a note of protest.
The United States denied Russia’s account. A US Navy spokesman for the Indo-Pacific region told the dpa news agency on Saturday (local time): “Russian claims that we are operating in their territorial waters are not true.” He would not comment on the exact location of the US boats, “but we fly, sail and operate safely in international waters,” the spokesman said.
The Russian Defense Ministry previously announced that it had chased a US submarine from its own territorial waters in the Pacific. The Virginia-class boat violated the Russian border near the Kuril Islands on Saturday. Russian Navy exercises were planned there at the time. Because the US crew initially ignored the warnings, the Russian side used “appropriate means” to force the boat to turn back, the statement added. Details were not given initially. Later, the US military attache was summoned to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow to deliver a note of protest.
The incident occurred amid high tensions between the United States and Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, according to Western sources. The deployment of troops, as well as Russian military exercises in neighboring Belarus and the Black Sea, are stoking fears in the west of an invasion of Ukraine. Moscow rejects any planned attack and at the same time accuses Kiev and NATO of “provocations”.
Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis at the highest level continued on Saturday. US President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The conversation lasted about an hour, the White House told Washington afterwards. French President Macron also spoke with Putin on Saturday and called on the Russian president to respect the Minsk agreement.
Meanwhile, US personnel from the OSCE monitoring mission are apparently withdrawing from Ukraine. This was reported by an eyewitness from Donetsk. They would have left the city by car. The OSCE did not initially comment on the matter. A US State Department spokesperson previously called on US OSCE personnel to leave the country due to a possible threat of Russian invasion: the corresponding travel advice for US citizens last week s also applied to them.
Image by Pit Karges