After U.S. legislators called the Kremlin plan a flimsy excuse for war against Ukraine, the Russian administration heightened the prospect of a military confrontation in a series of pronouncements.
Despite repeated contacts between U.S. and Russian officials, as well as formal warnings from Congress, the weekend remained bleak.
Ukraine’s State Department released a travel alert, due to escalating Russian threats, while Russian authorities reaffirmed their belligerent posture.
According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, they haven’t seen anything to ease their fears. Russian soldiers have gathered around Ukraine recently.
However, Washington’s fears grew after Moscow reacted to warnings not to strike with a proposed treaty mandating that NATO nations in Central and Eastern Europe remove their forces.
Publishing “propositions” for the U.S. and NATO is an insult to diplomacy, said Idaho Republican Sen. James Risch, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Russia made these conditions knowing they could not be met. Russia is seeking to provoke conflict.
Fighting words from Putin, who has said for the first time he’s ready to deploy the military if Russia doesn’t get what it wants from Nato.
The US and EU want to negotiate about Russia’s demands – but this looks more and more like a pretext for war https://t.co/w5oJHDe8ti
— max seddon (@maxseddon) December 21, 2021
The tipping point has arrived, said Konstantin Gavrilov, chief of the Russian Arms Control Delegation in Vienna.
Everyone in NATO knows no matter how powerful the alliance is, actual political action is required because Russia’s military-technical and military reaction is the only option.
Biden’s team has agreed to address at least a few of the Russian requests, but Moscow does not want the European Union to be concerned.
Therefore, White House national security director Jake Sullivan cautioned his counterpart that a genuine breakthrough could only happen in a de-escalation setting.
Ryabkov stated they appreciate various views, but prefer bilateral negotiations with the U.S.
He claimed the military expansion was intended to pressure Germany and France into pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make compromises with Putin in the context of a peace deal.
Ukraine and NATO
This approach is aimed towards Ukraine, Ryabkov told Interfax.
They firmly reject the notion of Ukraine joining NATO, as certain Ukrainian leaders keep mentioning. They will try their best to avoid that.
Legislators from both parties have approved the Biden administration’s threat to impose punishing economic penalties on Russia and give military aid to Ukraine.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said Sunday they support accelerating the delivery of supplemental lethal and nonlethal heavy weaponry to Ukraine.
They are committed to the safety of the NATO allies, particularly those in Eastern Europe who face daily threats from Putin’s Russia.
Ryabkov said Moscow would consider this concession a minor, not complete, but small move in the right direction.
The State Department’s staff has told Putin to expect a laundry list of NATO gripes at any future meeting.
Price said Monday that Russia had expressed its worries about American and NATO activity. They will share their worries about Russian activity with their European friends and partners.
Rejection of multilateral negotiations and demanding 1:1 US-RU talks. This is designed to either provoke a rejection from the US (yet another pretext for war) or drive a rift between US and its allies in Europe. Either way, a win-winhttps://t.co/iGtHPqvAR3
— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) December 21, 2021
Ryabkov stated it would remain difficult and tense, unless NATO countries changed their minds about the draft agreement proposal.
He warned Moscow would not be underestimated in its security interests. No one should take their warnings about the dangers of contemporary events lightly.