Zelenskyy, however, sought to play down the war fears, saying Western alarm over an imminent invasion has prompted many investors in the country’s financial markets to cash out. “We don’t need this panic,” he said at a news conference. “It cost Ukrainians dearly.”

Russia said Friday it will not start a war in Ukraine but warned that the U.S. and NATO have ignored its demands and left little room for compromise in the crisis.

President Vladimir Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the West has failed to consider Russia’s key conditions of halting further NATO expansion, stopping the deployment of alliance weapons near Russian borders, and rolling back its forces from Eastern Europe, the Kremlin said.

The U.S. and NATO formally rejected those demands this week, although Washington outlined areas where discussions are possible, offering hope that there could be a way to avoid war amid the buildup of more than 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine.

Despite that, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could take military action against the former Soviet state in February. Russia has repeatedly denied having any such plans.

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