Russia, at an impasse with the West, warns it is ready to abandon diplomacy

VIENNA — Russian officials signaled on Thursday that they may abandon diplomatic efforts to resolve the security crisis surrounding Ukra...

VIENNA — Russian officials signaled on Thursday that they may abandon diplomatic efforts to resolve the security crisis surrounding Ukraine, ending a whirlwind week of European diplomacy and deflating hopes that negotiators could pave the way for an appeasement tensions in Eastern Europe.

A senior Russian diplomat said talks with the West were approaching a ‘stalemate’, while another said the Kremlin would wait to receive written responses to its demands from Washington and NATO next week before deciding how to proceed.

It was clear that Russia’s next decision would lie with President Vladimir V. Putin, who his spokesman said on Thursday was regularly briefed on negotiations with the West this week.

“The United States and its allies are actually saying ‘no’ to key parts of these texts,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov said, referring to draft NATO deals and Washington. that Russia released last month. “That’s what we call a stalemate or a different approach.”

In Washington, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters that after a week of diplomacy, the United States was ready to talk more, including on missile deployments and military exercises in Europe, but were also preparing to respond “to a new Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We have been very clear with Russia on the costs and consequences of further military action or destabilization,” Sullivan said. “So we’re ready anyway.”

Mr Sullivan said Russian responses to the meetings in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna had been contradictory, noting that some officials had been “hopeful” and others seemed “deeply pessimistic”. But he added, “I’m not going to put myself in charge of the Russians,” and noted that US intelligence agencies had still not determined that the Russians had definitely decided on a military course of action.

U.S. representative at Thursday’s meeting, Michael R. Carpenter, also described the two sides as locked in an impasse with no clear resolution.

“We must never tolerate disregard or erosion of our fundamental principles,” Mr. Carpenter said. “It means no tolerance for overt or tacit spheres of influence, no restriction on the sovereign right of nations to choose their own alliances, no privilege for one state’s security demands over those of another.”

Russia asks NATO to drastically reduce its presence near Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe, including halting all military cooperation with Ukraine and providing legally binding guarantees that the country will never join the alliance. Mr Ryabkov said dialogue with the United States was continuing but also warned that Mr Putin was receiving options from the military on what to do “if the situation deteriorates”.

According to Western analysts and officials, these options will likely involve further Russian military action against Ukraine. Joining this week’s talks for the first time on Thursday, Ukraine said it had identified 106,000 Russian troops and 1,500 tanks near its border, and accused Moscow of pointing a “weapon at our common European security”.

Thursday’s rally, the last of three negotiating sessions this week between Russia and the West, took place in Vienna at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, made up of 57 countries, a group that includes Russia and Ukraine as well as the United States.

“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than at any time in the past 30 years,” said Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who took over the rotating presidency of the organization this year, opening the session.

The West insists that all countries must have the freedom to choose their alliances, while the Kremlin asserts that NATO cannot expand eastward and that Western military cooperation with post- Soviets like Ukraine pose an existential threat to Russia’s security.

While Russian officials said this week they were impressed with the seriousness with which the Biden administration – which the Kremlin considers its main counterpart – engaged in the talks, there was no indication on Thursday that the deadlock was out.

And while US officials say they are ready to discuss some of Russia’s concerns – such as negotiating reciprocal limits on where and how military exercises are conducted, or perhaps reviving the Armed Forces Treaty intermediate-range nuclear weapons, which the United States withdrew two years ago — it rejects any discussion of Russia’s central demand to roll back NATO expansion.

And it is this broader objective that seems to guide Russia in the negotiations, as it seeks to prevent NATO’s Ukraine and NATO forces from placing troops or weapons in former Soviet states that have since joined the western alliance. The United States has insisted that it will not abandon fundamental principles, including the right of nations to choose their allies, which is at the heart of NATO’s “open door” policy.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov also adopted a pessimistic tone.

“The harsh reality at the moment is that we were promised a written reaction,” Lavrov said in an interview broadcast on Thursday, according to the Interfax news agency. “We will wait for him. And then we’ll figure out our next steps.

Mr. Carpenter, when asked about Mr. Lavrov’s comments, said he did not know whether such a written response would come or not.

Ukraine, rejecting Russia’s denials that it had no intention of invading, said the Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border should be called off.

“Russian leaders are once again proving Moscow’s willingness to point the gun at our common European security at all times,” said Ukraine Representative Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk.

Thursday’s talks took place at a lower diplomatic level than negotiations in Brussels and Geneva earlier this week, with no one above the rank of ambassador from the main countries involved. Their host, the OSCE, should serve as a key venue for further negotiations if the Kremlin decides to pursue diplomacy.

“We are not indifferent to the security objections expressed by participating states,” said Polish Foreign Minister Rau. “I think the OSCE is the right platform to discuss all aspects of global security.”

It was the latest sign that Western countries are scrambling to engage with Russia, which has warned of a “military and technical” response if concerns over its security – such as open military cooperation from the West with Ukraine – are not taken into account.

While Russia denies plans to invade Ukraine, researchers have identified some new signs of Russian troops heading towards the Ukrainian border in recent days.

Russia’s representative at Thursday’s talks in Vienna, Aleksandr Lukashevich, stressed that Moscow does not rule out the possibility of further talks. Military analysts noted that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the frozen winter ground would be advantageous for its heavy armor.

“If we do not hear a constructive response to our proposals within a reasonable period of time,” Mr. Lukashevich said in remarks published by his office, “we will be forced to draw the corresponding conclusions and take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance”. and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security.

Anton Troyanovsky brought back from Vienna, and David E. Sanger from Washington. Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting from Moscow.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Russia, at an impasse with the West, warns it is ready to abandon diplomacy
Russia, at an impasse with the West, warns it is ready to abandon diplomacy
Newsrust - US Top News
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