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Russian diplomat leaves Cuba, Venezuela open to deploy troops

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation during Monday’s talks with the United States in Geneva, said in a televised statement that he would neither confirm nor rule out the possibility that Russia has could send military assets to Cuba and Venezuela.

Negotiations in Geneva and Wednesday’s NATO-Russia meeting in Vienna failed to close the gap on Moscow’s security requirements amid a Russian military buildup near Ukraine. While Moscow demanded a halt to NATO expansion, Washington and its allies firmly dismissed them as unintelligent.

Speaking in an interview with Russian TV channel RTVI, Ryabkov noted that “it all depends on the actions of our American counterparts”, adding that President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia could take military-technical measures if the US provokes Moscow and turns back militarily. pressure on it.

Ryabkov said the refusal of the United States and its allies to consider Russia’s main need for guarantees against the expansion of the alliance into Ukraine and other former Soviet states raises doubts about the continuation of the alliance. continue negotiations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted “several positive elements and nuances” in the talks, but described them as “unsuccessful” because of apparent disagreements over key Russian demands.

“Negotiations are started to get concrete answers to specific key issues that have been raised, and disagreements still exist on those key issues, which is terrible,” he said. on a conference call with reporters.

Peskov warned that Russia-US relations would be completely fractured if proposed sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top military and civilian leaders were passed. Measures proposed by Senate Democrats would also target top Russian financial institutions if Moscow sends troops into Ukraine.

Peskov criticized the proposals as an attempt to increase pressure on Moscow during the negotiations, saying it would be ineffective.

“It involves sanctions, which take into account the inevitable proportional response, which could lead to an initiative to break ties,” he warned, adding that Russia will respond in kind to protect its interests.

The talks come as an estimated 100,000 combat-ready Russian troops, tanks and heavy military equipment are concentrated near Ukraine’s eastern border. The buildup has caused deep concerns in Kyiv and the West that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. Russia denies that it is considering an invasion, and conversely accuses the West of threatening its security by stationing troops and equipment in Central and Eastern Europe.

Peskov rejected Western calls for Russia to help ease tensions by withdrawing troops from areas near Ukraine, noting that the country is free to move them wherever it deems necessary. on its territory.

“It is very difficult for NATO to order us that we should move our armed forces on Russian territory,” he said.

Peskov stressed that Russia is ready to continue the negotiations but wants them to produce results. “There will be no shortage of political will to continue the negotiations,” he said.

Tensions surrounding Ukraine and Russia’s demands on the West were once again on the table at Thursday’s meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Vienna.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who assumes the position of President of the OSCE Office, noted in his opening remarks that “the danger of war in the OSCE region is now greater than at any time in the past 30 years.” .

“For several weeks, we were faced with the possibility of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” he said. of influence. All of these aspects require a serious international assessment and an appropriate response. “

Mr. Rau stressed the need to “focus on a peaceful resolution of a conflict in and around Ukraine … with full respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity within its borders.” internationally recognized.”

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula after the pro-Moscow leader was ousted and weighed heavily on separatist forces in the east of the country, where more than seven years of fighting have killed more than 14,000 people.

A 2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany brought an end to large-scale battles, but frequent skirmishes continued and attempts to negotiate a political settlement failed.

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Emily Schultheis reporting from Vienna.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/kremlin-deplores-lack-progress-talks-west-82240819 Russian diplomat leaves Cuba, Venezuela open to deploy troops

Emma Bowman

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