Friday, May 20, 2022

Blinken: No concessions in Russia’s response to Ukraine

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The United States has made no concessions to Russia’s long-awaited written reply given Wednesday in Moscow to Russia’s main demands on Ukraine and NATO, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken said the US response to the Russian Foreign Ministry by US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left no ground on “fundamental principles” such as NATO’s open-door membership policy and the coalition’s military presence in Eastern Europe.

Blinken said the document made it clear that the US stood by its frequently stated positions. “There is no change, there will be no change,” he said. But, he said the written response to Russia also included “serious” proposals for a diplomatic route to defuse rising tensions on Ukraine by addressing Russian concerns over other matters.

Russia has warned that it will “retaliate quickly” if the US and its allies reject its demands.

Blinken said he looked forward to speaking again with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the coming days to obtain a Russian response. But, he said whether Russia accepts them or not is entirely the decision of President Vladimir Putin. “It is up to President Putin,” he said. “We’ll see how they respond.”

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US proposals echoed in a separate document sent by NATO to the Russians include aggressive missile placement and military exercises in Eastern Europe as well as the possibility of negotiating comprehensive arms control agreements until Russia withdraws its estimated 100,000 troops from Ukrainian takes it. boundary.

Moscow has demanded guarantees that NATO would never accept Ukraine and other former Soviet countries as members and that the coalition would withdraw military deployments to former Soviet bloc countries. Some of these, like membership pledges, are non-starters for the US and its allies, creating a seemingly difficult standoff that many fear may only end in war.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it has plans to attack Ukraine, but the US and NATO are concerned about Russia conducting a series of massive and extensive military maneuvers to force its troops near Ukraine.

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As part of the exercise, motorized infantry and artillery units in south-western Russia conducted ammunition firing exercises, warplanes conducted bombing runs in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, dozens of battleships for training exercises in the Black Sea and the Arctic. took off, and Russian fighter jets and paratroopers arrived in Belarus for joint war games.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers, Lavrov said he and other top officials would advise Putin on next steps after receiving a US response.

“If the West continues its aggressive stance, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,” Lavrov said.

But he indicated that Russia would not wait forever. “We will not allow our proposals to sink into endless discussions,” he said.

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Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Ukraine and Kirsten Grishber in Berlin contributed.

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