- Envoy says Russia wants peace but not at any price
- Ryabkov says experts offer military options to Putin
- Polish minister says Europe is closest to war in 30 years
- US ambassador to OSCE rejects Russian ‘blackmail’
- Moscow says it hasn’t given up on diplomacy
VIENNA/MOSCOW, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Poland’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Europe was at risk of descending into war as Russia said it was not yet calling the time for diplomacy, but that military experts were preparing options in case tensions over Ukraine could not be defused.
US Ambassador Michael Carpenter said after talks with Russia in Vienna that the West should be prepared for a possible increase in tensions with Moscow. “The drumbeat of war is ringing loudly and the rhetoric has become rather strident,” he told reporters.
Russia has said dialogue is continuing but has hit a stalemate as it tries to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of NATO expansion. alliance in Europe – demands that the United States has called “non-starters”.
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“At this stage, 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 stage in a series of talks East-West this week.
He warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if the two sides could not agree on what Russia called security red lines, but said Moscow had not given up on diplomacy and that she would even speed it up.
The Russian comments reflect a tendency for Moscow to say it wants to pursue diplomacy but reject calls to reverse its troop buildup near Ukraine and warn of unspecified consequences for Western security if its demands go unheeded. .
Earlier, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told the 57-nation security forum: “It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the past 30 last years.
While overlooking the wars of this period in the former Yugoslavia and parts of the former Soviet Union, his commentary highlighted the level of European anxiety over Russia’s buildup of some 100,000 troops to reach of its border with Ukraine.
Rau reported no breakthrough at the meeting, which followed Russian-US talks in Geneva on Monday and a Russia-NATO conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
“DIFFERENCE OF APPROACHES”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said previous meetings had shown there was an “impasse or a difference in approaches”, and he saw no reason to sit back in the next ones. days to resume the same discussions.
He told RTVI television that Russian military specialists were offering options to President Vladimir Putin in case the situation around Ukraine worsens, but diplomacy must be given 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 prompted a sell-off in government bonds. A trader at a major Russian bank told Reuters that the market had 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: “The jury is out on which path Vladimir Putin will choose. Will he choose the path of diplomacy and dialogue to solve some of these problems or will he continue confrontation and aggression? “
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, to discuss Russia’s rise. The Pentagon estimated that about two-thirds of Russian forces near Ukraine were “out of garrison,” meaning they had deployed from different parts of the country.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “I think the only way for the Russians to confirm their lack of intention to solve the problems by force is to continue the discussion in the established formats, especially at the OSCE”.
Russia denies plans to invade Ukraine, but its military buildup has forced the United States and its allies to the negotiating table.
He says he is threatened by the expansion of NATO 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 basing missiles there.
Washington rejected those demands but said it was ready to talk arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures to get out of 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 forced to draw the appropriate conclusions and take all necessary steps to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security”.
He continued: “Russia is a peace-loving country. But we don’t need peace at any cost. The need to get 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.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized a sanctions bill unveiled by US Senate Democrats on Wednesday that would target senior Russian government and military officials, including Putin, as well as banking institutions, if Russia attacked Ukraine. Read more
Peskov said imposing sanctions on Putin would mean 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 Putin was receiving regular updates on the talks and the Kremlin was clear on the outcome, but awaited written responses from the other side.
Carpenter said at the OSCE meeting: “As we prepare for an open dialogue on how to strengthen security for the benefit of all, we must decisively reject blackmail and never allow aggression and threats are rewarded”.
Russia has said it will decide its next actions after the talks this week and has threatened unspecified “military-technical measures” if its demands are denied.
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.
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Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Tom Balmforth; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart, François Murphy, Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber, Dmitry Antonov, Polina Devitt and Alexander Marrow; Written by Mark Trevelyan Editing by Frances Kerry, Philippa Fletcher and Grant McCool
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