U.S. and NATO allies intensify diplomacy in push to deter Russian ‘lightning raid’ on Ukraine

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President Biden on Monday held a video call with European leaders to discuss joint efforts to deter further aggression by the Kremlin against Kyiv, amid a massive buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border that has raised fears of a renewed invasion.

The leaders — including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and top NATO and European Union officials — spoke of their “shared desire for a diplomatic resolution to the current tensions,” according to a White House readout of the call.

They also discussed preparations to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs” on Russia, as well as moves to reinforce security on NATO’s eastern flank. The Western military alliance said Monday it was moving more military equipment into Eastern Europe, sending additional ships and fighter jets, just as the Biden administration put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for potential deployment to Europe.

They also discussed preparations to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs” on Russia, as well as moves to reinforce security on NATO’s eastern flank. The Western military alliance said Monday it was moving more military equipment into Eastern Europe, sending additional ships and fighter jets, just as the Biden administration put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for potential deployment to Europe.

Cyber Partisans said it would return the network to “normal mode” if 50 political prisoners in need of medical care were released, and Russian troops were barred from Belarus. As of Monday evening, parts of the Belarusian Railway website were down, showing an error message that “the site is temporarily unavailable, come back later.”

Meanwhile, Canadian officials said Monday that hackers had launched a cyber attack on the country’s foreign ministry last week, around the time Ottawa’s cyber defense agency was warning of Russian-backed threats. Canada is a NATO member and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been vocal in his opposition to Russia’s massing of forces on the Ukrainian border.

The Treasury Board Secretariat, which is responsible for Canadian government operations, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Russian actors were responsible.

“Critical services for Canadians through Global Affairs Canada are currently functioning. Some access to Internet and internet-based services are not currently available as part of the mitigation measures and work is underway to restore them,” the Treasury Board said in a statement.

Amid the escalating tensions, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) requested the Biden administration brief members of the upper chamber on the Russia-Ukraine situation, a person familiar with the matter said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also requested a similar all-member bipartisan briefing.

Even as the administration seeks a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine crisis, the United States and some Western allies have begun to take the kind of dramatic steps typically reserved for the eve of anticipated armed action.

Britain pulled some diplomats and their families out of Ukraine on Monday, a day after the United States ordered families of diplomats to leave Kyiv and authorized the departures of nonessential embassy staff.

In an interview with the ITV network, British leader Johnson said intelligence indicates Russia is planning a “lightning raid” on Kyiv, as he warned the Kremlin that an incursion would be “a disastrous step” that could lead to a lengthy conflict with casualties on both sides.