The United States has told the United Nations it has credible information about the possibility of serious human rights violations should Russia invade Ukraine.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed in principle to meet, after French President Emmanuel Macron pitched a summit
Hello, I’m Linah Alsaafin, welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine crisis.
Here are the latest updates on Monday, February 21:
Who are the Russia-backed separatists?
Since fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine in 2014, separatist rebels of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have been accused of being proxies for Russian interests, if not simply Russian soldiers in disguise.
But who exactly are the rebels in the statelets known as the DPR and LPR, home to 2.3 million and 1.5 million people respectively?
Read more here.
EU supports further talks between US and Russia on Ukraine
The European Union supports the latest attempt to arrange further talks between Washington and Moscow to find a diplomatic solution, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
“Summit meetings, at the level of leaders, at the level of ministers, whatever format, whatever way of talking and sitting at the table and trying to avoid a war, is badly needed,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
“We will support anything that can make diplomatic conversations the best way, the only way to look for a solution to the crisis,” he added.
Russia has lists of Ukrainians ‘to be killed or sent to camps’
The US has warned the UN it has “credible information” that Russia has lists of Ukrainians “to be killed or sent to camps” in the event of an invasion, according to a letter sent to the UN rights chief.
The letter, which came as Washington warned of an imminent invasion by Russian troops massed near the Ukrainian border, says the US is “deeply concerned” and warns of a potential “human rights catastrophe”.
Biden agrees to Ukraine summit
Emmanuel Macron says Biden and Putin have agreed to a summit over Ukraine, offering a possible path out of one of the most dangerous European crises in decades.
Macron’s office said in a statement the French president had pitched to both leaders a summit on “security and strategic stability in Europe”.
A White House statement said Biden had accepted the meeting “in principle” but only “if an invasion hasn’t happened”.
‘Confidence building measures’ in place to reassure Putin
PJ Crowley, former US assistant secretary of state, said the West is working hard to simultaneously prevent a Russian invasion as well as to put something on the table that will deter President Vladimir Putin from sending his troops across the border.
“I think it is useful for Western leaders to continue to try to say: ‘If not this then what else could we help you with?’ to try to convince [Putin] that what’s happening in Ukraine and western Ukraine does not pose a threat to Russia,” Crowley said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
“There have been constructive discussions about resurrecting treaties that have elapsed and other confidence-building measures, [and] transparency in terms of operations on NATO territory.
“At the end of the day, this is a crisis that Putin has created. He has assembled a formidable military force surrounding Ukraine and it will be his decision as to whether he carries out the invasion or not.”
Ukrainian crisis tops EU FMs’ agenda
The Russian threat against Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda in a gathering of EU foreign ministers on Monday in Brussels.
The EU has prepared “hard-hitting” and “substantial sanctions” that “are intended to weaken the Russian economy” in case Moscow decides to use aggression against Ukraine, a senior EU official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said ahead of the ministerial meeting.
The source confirmed that the bloc developed the sanctions package in cooperation with “like-minded countries” to take similar action and “reinforce each other”.
You can read updates from Sunday, February 20 here.