Poland’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Europe was at risk of plunging into war, with Russia saying it was not yet calling the time for diplomacy, but that military experts were preparing options in case the tensions over Ukraine could not be defused.
US Ambassador Michael Carpenter said after talks with Russia in Vienna that the West should prepare for a possible escalation of tensions with Moscow. “The drumbeat of war is ringing loud and the rhetoric has become rather shrill,” he told reporters.
Russia said the dialogue continued but found itself at an impasse as it tried to persuade the West to ban Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of Russian expansion. the alliance in Europe – demands that the United States has called “non-starters”.
“At this point it’s really disappointing,” Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told reporters after a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the third step in a series of talks East-West this week.
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He warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if the two sides fail to agree on what Russia called the security red lines, but said Moscow had not given up on diplomacy and would even speed it up.
The Russian comments reflect a tendency for Moscow to say that it wants to continue diplomacy but rejecting calls to reverse the constitution of its troops near Ukraine and warning of unspecified consequences for Western security if its demands fail. are not heard.
Earlier, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told the 57-country security forum: “It appears that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever in the past 30 years. .
While ignoring the wars of this period in the former Yugoslavia and parts of the former Soviet Union, his commentary underscored the level of concern among Europeans over Russia’s build-up of some 100,000 troops. within reach of its border with Ukraine.
Rau did not report any progress at the meeting, which followed Russian-US talks in Geneva on Monday and a Russia-NATO conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said previous meetings had shown there was a “deadlock or difference in approach”, and he saw no reason to sit down in the next few days to resume discussions. same discussions.
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He told RTVI television that Russian military specialists are offering President Vladimir Putin options in case the situation around Ukraine worsens, but diplomacy has to stand a chance. “I must reiterate that the dialogue is still ongoing on many levels and in many directions,” Ryabkov said.
The Russian ruble fell more than 2% against the dollar following Ryabkov’s comments, which also led to a massive sell-off in government bonds. A trader at a major Russian bank told Reuters the market partly reacted to a comment by Ryabkov, in response to a question, that he would neither confirm nor rule out the possibility of Russia deploying “military infrastructure. “in Cuba and Venezuela. Read more
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told MSNBC in an interview: “The jury has decided which path Vladimir Putin is going to choose. Is he going to take the path of diplomacy and dialogue to resolve some of these issues or is he going continue the confrontation and aggression? “
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “I think the only way for the Russians to confirm their lack of intention to resolve the issues by force is to continue the discussion in the established formats, especially at the OSCE.
Russia denies its intention to invade Ukraine, but its military build-up has forced the United States and its allies to sit at the negotiating table.
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He says he is threatened by the fact that NATO has expanded towards its borders by welcoming 14 new members from the former communist Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. He wants to draw “red lines” to prevent the alliance from admitting Ukraine as a member or from basing missiles there.
Washington has rejected the demands, but said it is ready to talk about arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures to emerge from one of the most difficult times in East-West relations since the Cold War. .
Ambassador Lukashevich told the OSCE that unless Moscow receives a constructive response, “we will be obliged to draw appropriate conclusions and take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to the country. our national security “.
He continued, “Russia is a peace-loving country. But we don’t need peace at all costs. The need to obtain these legally formalized security guarantees for us is unconditional.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday after talks with Russia that countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed a sanctions bill unveiled by Democrats in the US Senate on Wednesday that would target senior Russian government and military officials, including Putin, as well as institutions key banking, if Russia attacks Ukraine.
Peskov said sanctioning Putin would be tantamount to severing relations.
“We view the emergence of such documents and statements in an extremely negative light in the context of an ongoing, albeit unsuccessful, round of negotiations,” he said.
Peskov was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying that Putin received regular updates on the talks and that the Kremlin was clear on the outcome, but was waiting for responses from the other side in writing.
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Carpenter told the OSCE meeting: “As we prepare for an open dialogue on how to strengthen security for the benefit of all, we must resolutely reject blackmail and never allow aggression. and threats are rewarded.
Russia has said it will decide on its next steps after this week’s talks and has threatened unspecified “military and technical measures” if its demands are rejected.
US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday that if Russia moved away it would show that it was never serious about diplomacy in the first place.