MOSCOW (AP) – Russia raised stakes Thursday in its dispute with the West over Ukraine and NATO expansion When a top diplomat refused military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela as tensions with the United States escalated.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the US and its allies do not curb their military activities at Russia’s doorstep. can do.
“It all depends on action by our American counterparts,” the minister said in an interview with Russian television network RTVI, citing warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would remain unspecified if the US and its allies fail. “Military-technical measures”. Pay attention to its demands.
Ryabkov led the Russian delegation in talks with the US on Monday. Talks and related NATO-Russia meeting in Geneva The creation of a significant Russian army near Ukraine in Brussels occurred in response to what the West feared might be a prelude to an invasion.
Russia, which occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, has denied plans to attack the neighboring country. The Kremlin reacted to the suggestion, accusing NATO of threatening its territory and demanding that the military alliance never embrace Ukraine. or any other former Soviet nation as a new member.
Washington and its allies this week strongly dismissed the demand as a non-start, but the NATO and Russian delegation opened the door for further talks on arms control and other issues aimed at reducing the likelihood of hostilities. agreed to leave.
A senior Biden administration official suggested Thursday that Ryabkov’s statements about Cuba and Venezuela did not change Washington’s calculations.
“We are not going to respond to the blasts,” he said. If Russia really starts moving in that direction, we will deal with it decisively,” the official said on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing talks.
Ryabkov last month compared current tensions over Ukraine to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis – when the Soviet Union deployed missiles to Cuba and the US imposed a naval blockade of the island.
The crisis ended when US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed that Moscow would withdraw its missiles in exchange for Washington’s pledge not to invade Cuba and to remove American missiles from Turkey.
Seeking to reduce the West’s military activity in Eastern Europe, Putin has argued that NATO could use Ukrainian territory to deploy missiles capable of reaching Moscow in just five minutes. He warned that Russia could achieve similar capability by deploying warships equipped with the latest Zircon hypersonic cruise missile in neutral waters.
Shortly after his first election in 2000, Putin ordered the closure of a Soviet-built military surveillance facility in Cuba as he sought to improve relations with Washington. Moscow has intensified contact with Cuba in recent years as tensions with the US and its allies rise.
In December 2018, Russia sent a pair of its nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela in a show of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid Western pressure.
Ryabkov said the refusal by the US and its allies to consider key Russian demand for guarantees against the expansion of the coalition in Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries makes it difficult to discuss confidence-building steps, which Washington calls for. Says he is ready for talks.
“The US wants to negotiate some elements of the security situation… “We have nowhere to turn,” he said.
Ryabkov described US and NATO military deployments and exercises near Russian territory as extremely destabilizing. The US nuclear-capable strategic bombers flew just 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Russian border, he said.
“We are constantly facing a provocative military pressure intended to test our might,” he said, adding that he wondered how the Americans would react “if our bombers were fired from some American bases on the East or West Coast. Fly within kilometres.
High-stakes diplomacy happened this week as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops have tanks and other heavy weapons rampant near Ukraine’s eastern border. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday denied the West’s call for the withdrawal of troops from areas near Ukraine.
“It is hardly possible for NATO to direct us where we should move our armed forces on Russian territory,” he said.
Peskov said this week’s talks produced “some positive elements and nuances”, but he described them as an overall failure.
Peskov said in a conference call with reporters, “The negotiations were initiated to obtain specific answers to concrete key issues, and disagreements on those key issues persisted, which is bad.”
He warned of a complete breakdown in US-Russia relations over the proposed sanctions. Putin and other top civilian and military leaders are targeted. The measures, proposed by Senate Democrats, would also target major Russian financial institutions if Moscow sends troops to Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov similarly denounced the proposed sanctions as a reflection of America’s “arrogance”, saying Moscow expected a written response to its demands from the US and NATO next week to consider further steps. Can you
Tensions around Ukraine and Russia’s demands on the West were reintroduced at Thursday’s meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Vienna.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who took the position of President-in-Office of OSCE, said in his opening speech that “the risk of war in the OSCE region is now greater than ever in the last 30 years.”
Tension over Ukraine was also high on the agenda for the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brest, France. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said that “it is important for Putin to understand that the military threat, the game he is playing, the way he is trying to take us back to the darkest days of the Cold War.” Completely unacceptable.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, reiterated that “any further aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and serious costs for Russia.” Borrell said the 27-country bloc is providing 31 million euros ($35.5 million) in logistical support to the Ukrainian military and is preparing to send a mission to help the country counter the cyberattack.
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula after ousting Ukraine’s Moscow-allied leader and in 2014 also threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces. ,
Emily Schultheis reported from Vienna. Lorne Cooke in Brussels and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.