Russia welcomes US readiness to talk, seeks proposals
Russia welcomed U.S. willingness to start talks next month on its security proposals, a day after President Vladimir Putin threatened a military response if the Kremlin’s demands aren’t met.
“We would like to hope that for the upcoming negotiations, which is already positive, our partners will come with clearly formulated positions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday.
The U.S. said Tuesday it’s ready to discuss Russia’s European security proposals published last week while also calling parts of them “unacceptable,” amid rising tensions over a buildup of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine.
“These comments came ahead of further troop movements on the border, so yes, my concern is great,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Berlin Wednesday. “But that means all the more that you need to move toward dialogue with every millimeter of your action.”
The U.S. and its allies have threatened punishing new sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion, something the Kremlin denies it’s preparing.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Wednesday dialogue is vital as the European Union lacks the tools to deter Russia. “At best, we Europeans have some economic deterrents,” he told a press conference, noting the bloc isn’t ready to cut off gas supplies from Russia.
Putin said the security proposals aren’t an ultimatum but threatened to “take adequate military-technical response measures” if the West doesn’t accept Russia’s demands to stop the eastward expansion of NATO and deployment of alliance weapons near Russia. “We have nowhere to retreat further,” he said Tuesday at the Defense Ministry.
Putin explained Russia’s proposals in separate phone talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.
Peskov declined to elaborate on what Russia’s response measures may be, saying only that they would ensure parity of mutual deterrence. It’s important the proposed talks don’t become drawn out and turn into negotiations for their own sake, he said.
The president hit out after Russia demanded last week that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization withdraw forces to the positions they held in 1997, before the alliance expanded to include former Soviet satellite states in eastern Europe, as part of proposed new security treaties. Russia also called on the U.S. to rule out any prospect of membership for ex-Soviet states.
While the alliance has said the door is open to membership for Ukraine, there’s little prospect of that happening any time soon and there are no plans to put NATO missiles in the country. The military alliance says it’s a defensive body and its deployments in member states have come in response to Russia’s threats.