By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
The Kremlin said on Thursday (AP) – The United States’ rejection of key Russian demands to resolve the crisis over Ukraine leaves “little basis for optimism,” but added that dialogue is still possible. happen.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks, as the United States and its NATO allies have expressed concern that the buildup of some 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine is a sign that Moscow plans to invade its former Soviet neighbor. . Russia denies having any such design – and has made a series of demands that it says will improve security in Europe.
But as expected, the US and the Western alliance firmly rejected any concessions on key points by Moscow on Wednesday, refusing to permanently ban Ukraine from joining NATO and saying the deployment of troops and equipment Allies’ militaries in Eastern Europe were non-negotiable. The US has outlined areas where some of Russia’s concerns can be addressed, which could offer a path to de-escalation.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “No change, no change, reiterating the warning that any Russian incursions into Ukraine will have huge consequences and severe economic costs. .
All eyes are now on President Vladimir Putin, who will decide how Russia will react amid fears that Europe could sink into war again.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the response from the US – and a similar one from NATO – leaves “little basis for optimism.” But he added that “there are always prospects for continued dialogue, which is in the interest of both us and the Americans.”
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the US response had a number of factors that could lead to “the beginning of a serious talk on secondary issues”, but stressed that “the document has no response”. positive on the main issue”. Those are Moscow’s demands that NATO not expand and the alliance refrain from deploying weapons that could threaten Russia.
Foreign Minister Lavrov said top officials would submit proposals to Putin. Peskov said Russia’s response would be imminent.
The evasive official comments reflect the fact that it is Putin who will single-handedly decide Russia’s next moves. He warned of unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West refused to heed the demands.
Peskov added that Putin and US President Joe Biden will decide whether they need to have another conversation after two phone calls last month.
While diplomacy continues, so do moves that escalate tensions. Russia has conducted a series of drills involving infantry and motorized artillery units in southwestern Russia, fighter jets in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, dozens of warships in the Black Sea and the Arctic. , with Russian fighters and paratroopers in Belarus.
Meanwhile, NATO says it is strengthening its deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, and the United States has sent 8,500 troops on heightened alert about possible deployments to Europe.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv had seen the US response before it was handed over to Russia and had no objection. He tweeted that it is important for the US to stay in close contact with Ukraine before and after all contact with Russia. ”
During a visit to Denmark, Kuleba stressed his country’s need to strengthen its defenses.
“This crisis is a moment of truth, and this is why we talk about weapons,” he said. “This is why we talk about economic sanctions. This is why we talk about the unified position of all of us, so that President Putin sees that there is no weak link in our defense chain.”
Amid the tension, thousands of Ukrainians have expressed their determination to resist Russian pressure with the hashtag #UkrainiansWillResist on Twitter and Facebook.
Andrii Levus, the campaign’s initiator, wrote: “No one will force the Ukrainians to accept the Kremlin’s ultimatum.
In addition to concerns about a possible Russian attack in Ukraine, there is also speculation that Moscow’s response could include military deployments to the Western Hemisphere.
While a senior Russian diplomat recently declined to rule out such deployments to Cuba and Venezuela, a top Putin associate on Thursday expressed skepticism about that prospect.
“Cuba and Venezuela are aiming to get out of isolation and restore normal relations with the US to a certain extent, so there can’t be any talk about setting up bases there like that,” he said. happened under the Soviet Union,” Dmitry Medvedev, a deputy minister who heads Russia’s Security Council, told Russian media.
While he accused the West of using Ukraine as a way to contain Russia, he acknowledged that the Russia-NATO conflict “would be the most catastrophic and simplest scenario, and I hope it never will.” happening now”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev has reaffirmed his denial that Moscow has any intention of attacking Ukraine, saying: “We consider even the thought of a war between our peoples I am unacceptable”.
While fears of a possible Russian attack remain, a separatist conflict is simmering in Ukraine. After the 2014 overthrow of the Kremlin-friendly president in Kyiv, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and backed an uprising in the country’s eastern industrial heartland. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels has left more than 14,000 people dead and efforts to reach a settlement have stalled.
Ukrainian and Russian envoys and others met in Paris on Wednesday to discuss that conflict, but Prime Minister Medvedev said it was of no use to Moscow to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and suggested that only a change in their leadership could defuse tensions.
He expressed hope that Ukrainians will eventually become “tired of that platform and elect a leadership that will pursue policies … aimed at normal economic relations with Russia.”
That comment follows British claims that the Kremlin is seeking to replace the Ukrainian government with a pro-Moscow one – an allegation Russia denies.
Associated Press writers Yuras Karmanau in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Jan M. Olsen of Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/27/russia-sees-little-optimism-in-us-response-on-ukraine-crisis/ Russia is not very optimistic about the US response to the Ukraine crisis – San Bernardino Sun