German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Moscow on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin in a high-stakes mission to avert war, saying he will hammer home the message from the West that they are open to dialogue about Russia’s security concerns but will impose sanctions if it invades Ukraine.

Meanwhile, some troops in Russia’s military districts adjacent to Ukraine returned to their bases after completing drills, Russia’s defence ministry was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying, a move that could de-escalate frictions between Moscow and the West.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is also due to visit Belgium – where he’ll meet NATO allies – Lithuania and Poland, a day after Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov held out the hope for diplomacy after urging Putin to continue talks.

Amid frantic diplomacy to try and avert conflict in Ukraine, the United States extended a $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee to Ukraine, as the build-up of Russian troops at the country’s borders weighs on its economy.


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