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Zelensky to meet with France, Germany on Russia tensions

Zelensky to meet with France, Germany on Russia tensions
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will huddle with the leaders of France and Germany on Friday to discuss increasing tensions with Russia.

Zelensky announced Thursday that he will meet with French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronThousands protest in French cities in fight against climate change Biden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert EU leaders criticize Biden push to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents: Not a 'magic bullet' MORE in Paris on Friday and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend via video conference.

Zelensky said the meeting would be used to discuss the steps necessary for a conference in the “Normandy” format, talks that typically involve the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. He did not say when such a meeting could take place.

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“It is an important meeting,” Zelensky said.

The announcement comes as Ukraine is working to build Western support for Kyiv amid fears that Russia could soon invade.

Moscow has overseen a robust military buildup along its border with Ukraine, a move that Western calls for deescalation have failed to reverse.

The buildup is the broadest since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

The United Kingdom on Thursday summoned Russia’s ambassador over “malign” behavior, specifically citing skyrocketing tensions with Ukraine as well as hacking and other influence operations.

The U.S. also rolled out a slate of sanctions against Russia over the issues targeting Russia's Central Bank, National Wealth Fund and Ministry of Finance and warned that more punishments could be on the way if Moscow did not dial its military activities down.

“There are elements of this new EO that give us additional authorities that we are not exercising today,” a senior official said. “We would prefer not to have to deploy these authorities, but the scope and potential to cause meaningful impact should send a clear signal that continued harmful activities, including further election interference, further malicious cyber activities are unacceptable, and we are prepared going forward to impose substantial and lasting costs if this behavior continues.”