The United States has given the Kremlin a written response to the demands made by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, last week to avoid a conflict at the expense of Ukraine. The response, according to the US chief diplomat, was delivered in person to the Russian Foreign Ministry by the US ambassador to that country, John Sullivan. According to Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, the document details areas in which the US sees ways to advance in the dialogue with Russia, including the control of the proliferation of weapons.
White House sources said Russian demands, including in a proposed deal with NATO members and a draft bilateral treaty between Russia and the US, have not been accepted.
By virtue of both the Atlantic Alliance would have to agree to suspend all membership plans, not only with Ukraine, but with former republics or Soviet satellites. It should also end any joint military exercises near Russian borders. In exchange, the Kremlin says it would lower tensions, withdraw troops from Ukraine and honor other international commitments to disarmament and conflict prevention.
Blinken did not want to reveal the details of the letter in a public appearance at the State Department headquarters, but made it clear that it does not include a position different from the one that the US has defended in recent weeks. “The document that we have transferred includes the concerns of the US and our allies about Russia’s actions that affect security, a pragmatic and principled assessment of the concerns that Russia has expressed and our own proposals in areas where we can find consensus,” Blinken said. These have to do with «the possibility of measures of reciprocal transparency on the positions of force in Ukraine, as well as measures to increase confidence in relation to military exercises and maneuvers in Europe and other areas of possible progress, such as arms control in related to the presence of missiles in Europe».
respect for sovereignty
The head of US diplomacy, however, made it clear that the US commitment remains unwavering in what has to do with «the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the right of states to choose their own security arrangements and alliances”, a reference against Russia’s central demand: a written commitment that Ukraine never enter NATO.
The Pentagon put 8,500 US troops on alert Monday for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe and in the face of heightened tensions in Ukraine, its spokesman, John Kirby, told a news conference. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered troops to be prepared for immediate deployment. Kirby said most US troops would be tasked, if mobilized, to bolster the NATO Response Force, but said President Joe Biden has also said he wants to be “prepared for any other contingencies.”
According to Blinken, the written response to Russia “supposes a path open to diplomacy if Russia chooses to follow it.” Otherwise, the Secretary of State insisted in the threats of strong economic sanctions and detailed military support for Ukraine by the US and its allies if Moscow takes the step of invading its neighboring country. “The ball is in Russia’s court,” Blinken said.