WASHINGTON, United States – The Biden and NATO administrations told Russia on Wednesday that there would be no concessions from the United States or NATO on Moscow’s main demands for a solution to the Ukraine crisis.
In separate written responses to the Russians, the United States and NATO strongly adhered to the Alliance’s open door policy, rejecting a request to permanently ban Ukraine’s accession and saying that the deployment of Allied troops and military equipment to Eastern Europe can be negotiated.
“There is no change, there will be no change,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The US and European response to any Russian invasion of Ukraine will also not be negotiated, he said, reiterating the mantra that any such incursion would have huge consequences and heavy economic costs.
The responses were not unexpected and reflected what senior US and NATO officials had been saying for weeks. However, they and the possible Russian reaction to them could determine whether Europe will be plunged into war again.
There was no immediate response from Russia, but Russian officials warned that Moscow would take “retaliatory measures” quickly if the United States and its allies rejected its demands.
Seeking opportunities to allow Russia to withdraw some 100,000 troops it has deployed near the border with Ukraine without appearing to have lost a battle of wills, the US response has outlined areas where some of Russia’s concerns can be addressed. provided it de-escalates tensions with Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Blinken said Russia would not be surprised by the content of the several-page US document submitted by US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
“Everything that has been said sets a serious diplomatic path forward. “Russia has to choose that,” he said. “The document we have submitted includes the concerns of the United States and our allies and partners about Russia’s actions undermining security, a principled and pragmatic assessment of the concerns expressed by Russia, and our own proposals for areas where we may be able to find common ground.” .
Blinken said he hoped to talk to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the answer in the coming days. But he stressed that the decision to conduct diplomacy or conflict is up to Russia and more specifically to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We will see how they respond,” he said. “But there is no doubt in my mind that if Russia approaches this seriously and in a spirit of reciprocity with a determination to strengthen collective security for all of us, there are many positive things in this document that can be continued. “We can not make that decision for President Putin.”
Shortly after Blinken’s speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the Alliance had sent a special response to Russia with an offer to improve communication, explore ways to avoid military incidents or accidents, and discuss arms control. But like Blinken, he has rejected any attempt to stop membership.
“We can not and will not compromise on the principles underpinning our alliance security and security in Europe and North America,” Stoltenberg said. “This is about respecting states and their right to choose their own path.”
“Russia should refrain from using coercive force, aggressive rhetoric and malicious actions against allies and other peoples. “Russia should also withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, where they are deployed without the consent of these countries,” he said.
While categorically refusing to consider any changes to NATO’s open-door policy, its relationship with non-allied Ukraine, or allied troops and military deployments in Eastern Europe, Blinken said the United States was open to other ideas to facilitate Russia’s stated concern.
The US proposals, repeated in the NATO document, include the potential for negotiations to deploy offensive missiles and military exercises in Eastern Europe, as well as for broad arms control agreements until Russia withdraws its troops from the Ukrainian border and agrees to stopped the inflammatory rhetoric designed to deepen divisions and divisions among the allies and in Ukraine itself.
Moscow has demanded assurances that NATO will never admit Ukraine and other former Soviet states as members, and that the Alliance will withdraw its troops from the former Soviet bloc. Some of them, such as the promise of membership, can create a seemingly insurmountable stalemate that many fear could only end in war.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any plans to attack Ukraine, but the United States and NATO are worried that Russia will launch a series of extensive military maneuvers.
As part of the exercise, motorized infantry and artillery units in southwestern Russia practiced shelling, warplanes bombed Kaliningrad in the Baltic Sea, dozens of warships sailed for training exercises in the Black Sea and Arctic, and arrived in Belarus for joint war games.
Speaking to Russian lawmakers Wednesday before the US-NATO response was delivered, Lavrov said he and other senior officials would advise Putin on the next steps.
“If the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,” Lavrov said.
But he said Russia would not wait forever. “We will not allow our proposals to be stifled in endless discussions,” he said.
Amid tensions, the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada have moved on to withdraw some of their diplomats from Kiev, a move President Volodymyr Zelensky sought to bring down on Tuesday as part of a “complex diplomatic game”.
Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met for more than five hours in Paris on Wednesday to discuss the separatist conflict. Although there was no breakthrough, they promised to meet for new talks in two weeks in Berlin.
The French president’s office later said in a statement that the parties supported “unconditional respect” for the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The talks focused on the 2015 Minsk peace agreement aimed at ending the conflict, and the statement did not address current concerns about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“These are different issues and we did not discuss them,” said Kremlin envoy Dmitry Kozak. (AP)