Standoff with US and Russia in Ukraine talks, moment of truth nears

The United States and Russia are still worlds apart after their first round of discussions on easing the crisis that erupted on Ukraine’s eastern border.

With no clear path to resolve and daily development to drag the situation to the brink of conflict in Eastern Europe, officials on both sides have expressed newsweek That the decisive moment about the victory of diplomacy will soon come.

“The days to come will give a better indication of whether Russia is really interested in diplomacy, if they are prepared to negotiate seriously in good faith, or whether they will use the discussions to claim that diplomacy is their interests,” a State Department spokesperson said. newsweek After a series of talks in Europe last week between representatives of the US, its NATO military alliance and Russia.

“We expect the Russian delegation to report back to President Putin later this week as they decide whether they want to seriously engage in these discussions,” the spokesman said.

“We expect these talks to continue, but if Russia walks off the table, it will be clear that they were never willing to get involved,” the spokesman said. “Throughout all of this, we will be coordinating closely with our partners and partners, which will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov shared his assessment of the outcome of the talks so far.

“It must be acknowledged that the discussions held last week with the United States and NATO have not yet yielded any significant results,” Antonov said. newsweek, “We look forward to written responses from Washington and Brussels on our draft agreements. Based on them, we will decide on the appropriateness of further joint work. We are also ready to discuss counter proposals.”

The Russian envoy said the main theme of the talks was “maintaining peace and stability in Europe by working on security guarantees based on draft agreements proposed by Moscow.”

The drafts came in the form of two proposed treaties sent to the US and NATO, both of which scoffed at some Russian demands, such as halting the eastward expansion of the US-led coalition.

But Moscow sees this point and others as crucial to achieving a lasting security consensus on the continent three decades after the end of the Cold War.

“After the collapse of the USSR, the security situation in Europe deteriorated sharply,” said Antonov. “Five ‘waves’ of NATO expansion have brought Alliance States forces closer to our borders. The continued progress of the North Atlantic bloc in the east is one of the main threats to Russia’s national security.”

“As the bloc approaches our border, the flight times of NATO air and missile weapons to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in the European part of the country are reduced,” he said. “How would the US government react if Washington, New York or Los Angeles were ‘under bombardment’?”

A Russian tank from the 1st Guards Tank Army fires during an exercise in Russia’s Western Military District, in this photo published this month. The First Guards Tank Army traces its roots back to the conflict against Nazi Germany in World War II and was later revived in 2014 as part of a military expansion that coincided with the outbreak of a war in eastern Ukraine, To which the unit is reportedly deployed amid tensions escalating in winter 2021-2022.
Russian Defense Ministry

Geography has helped keep the US from becoming the target of all but a doom-inducing intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike that will almost certainly bring with it nuclear devastation. Short-range missiles have not effectively threatened the US mainland since the Cuban Missile Crisis played out in the Caribbean six decades ago.

But once again comparisons are being made to that frightening flashpoint. Just last month, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned of the events of October 1962 with the impasse in Ukraine, saying, “If comrades on the other side fail to understand us and keep doing what they are doing, then We may wake up at some point to see something similar, if that’s what further developments suggest.”

Since then, the situation has only worsened.

Ryabkov on Thursday did not rule out modern Russian military deployments in Cuba and Venezuela. Again, he said, “it all depends on the action of our American counterparts.”

What’s more, mid-range missiles that were banned for decades under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are set to make a comeback as a result of former President Donald Trump’s scrapping of the deal in 2020. Both sides accused each other. For violating the treaty, and now the re-emergence of such weapons in Eastern Europe threatens to cause even more serious fire if fired.

For its part, NATO has rejected the portrayal that its own currency in Eastern Europe is a threat to Russia. NATO officials consistently define the bloc as a “defensive alliance” that has no intention of waging a war, but rather to prevent one.

NATO’s Article 5 Collective Defense Clause has been invoked only once in the coalition’s half-century history in response to the 9/11 attacks. NATO has also conducted combat operations in Eastern Europe, including Libya in 2011 and during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, but has never taken action against Russia, nor has any plans to do so. Public signal issued.

But Russia sees it differently.

“NATO is constantly building up its offensive capability, demonstrating military force along the perimeter of Russian territory,” Antonov said. “Every year, about 40 major exercises are conducted in the vicinity of the borders of Russia, including training on launching cruise missiles by strategic aviation and naval maneuvers in the Black and Baltic Seas.”

He called such military moves “unacceptable to us” in the former Soviet republics and provided further evidence that confrontations could erupt at any time.

“It is full of deployment of missile systems and other destabilizing weapons that directly threaten our country,” Antonov said. “As a result, the risks of further direct military conflict in the region and beyond will increase manifold. Everything has its limits. In fact, we are on the edge of the precipice.”

The US has already begun to disclose its options if a conflict does arise. Notably, these include not deploying US forces to defend Ukraine, but plans include additional US troops to further strengthen other NATO countries, more military aid to Ukraine, and unprecedented sanctions against Russia.

“The president made clear that if Russia escalates the confrontation, the United States and our NATO allies will inflict significant and serious economic damage on the Russian economy,” a State Department spokesman said. “This includes stronger economic measures, additional defensive material for Ukraine that we are already providing, and the strengthening of our eastern side of NATO in response to such escalation.”

ukraine, army, border, russia
A Ukrainian military force soldier looks through a spy in a trench with Russia-aligned separatists near Avdivka in southeastern Ukraine on January 9. An estimated 14,000 people have died since the outbreak of Ukraine’s war in 2014, and many are concerned the number could skyrocket if widespread conflict breaks out.

The US has supported Ukraine since the start of the country’s conflict in 2014, when an insurgency that brought a pro-West government to power, followed shortly after by pro-Moscow rebels in the east and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula Was. A referendum that is not recognized by Washington or its European partners, including Kiev.

Ukraine and its supporters argue that Russia directly supported the rebellion and even sent its forces across the border. At that time the US and its allies introduced sanctions and sent troops to Eastern European states that were members of the NATO alliance.

US officials have made it clear that this time their response will go far beyond the previous response. In a preview of one such plan, a sanctions package unveiled by legislators from Biden’s Democratic Party included sweeping economic sanctions targeting top Russian institutions and even Putin himself, the head of any state. A rare remedy against, at the very least, of Russia.

Officials in Moscow, from the Kremlin to the foreign ministry, have warned that such actions could lead to a rift in ties, severing a relationship born in 1933 and a far worse flare-up between the two-long-time rivals. can face.

“We are preparing for all contingencies, as we have been doing for weeks now,” a State Department spokesman said, including preparing a specific, robust response to Russian escalation should they be needed.

As of Friday, the US accused Russia of planning false flag attacks on the pretext of a possible impending invasion. The sudden cyber attack on Ukraine has affected government agencies and even embassies including the US

While Washington has not yet directly blamed Moscow for the attack, NATO has already moved forward with a promise to strengthen Kiev’s cyber infrastructure, indicating another front that could serve as a flashpoint for the conflict. can work in.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the false flag allegations along with the cyberattack “give everyone a much clearer picture of what we’re seeing in terms of preparedness.”

Asked about Biden’s patience with diplomacy so far, Psaki said, “It’s not about him, it’s about Russia deciding which way they’re going to go.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke directly on this issue separately during a press conference in Moscow.

“Our patience has run out,” Lavrov told reporters. “We’re very patient. You know what they say about how long it takes Russians to harness their horses? We get used to them slowly but then it’s time to ride. Waiting for the coachman there to give a specific reply.”

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US and Russian flags are displayed at the US Permanent Mission in Geneva on January 10 for security talks on escalating tensions over Ukraine.
Dennis Ballybos/PoolAFP/Getty Images