Russia sees room for dialogue as Nato, US respond to Kremlin proposals

Moscow, Jan 27 (EFE).- Russia said Thursday that the United States and its allies had failed to address its main concerns over Nato’s eastward expansion but that there is room for dialogue to ease tensions over a military buildup on its border with Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Washington and Nato formally responded to Russia’s demand for security guarantees in Europe, offering to continue engaging in diplomacy but warning Moscow that it will face “serious consequences” if it opts to stage another invasion of Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The US also reiterated its stance that it would never ban Ukraine or any other country in central and eastern Europe from joining the alliance.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that while Washington’s response allows for “a serious conversation” to begin, the US had only addressed “secondary issues”.

“There is no positive reaction on the main issue in this document. The main issue is our clear position that further Nato expansion to the east and the deployment of strike weapons that could threaten the territory of the Russian Federation are unacceptable,” the foreign minister said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov echoed that position, expressing disappointment that Russia’s main concerns had failed to be addressed.

“We cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account,” Peskov said.

Meanwhile, US secretary of state Anthony Blinken warned his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi late on Wednesday of the global “risks” of a Russian invasion.

According to the Kremlin, China has expressed support for Moscow’s demands for security guarantees to prevent Nato’s expansion.

“Blinken underscored the global security and economic risks posed by further Russian aggression against Ukraine and conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward,” the State Department reported of the telephone conversation.

The call came a week before Chinese President Xi Jinping was due to hold a summit in Beijing with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 4. Putin will be attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

While diplomatic efforts are ongoing, Washington continues to prepare for a potential confrontation by delivering more military equipment to Kiev and recommending that its citizens in Ukraine leave the country due to the risk of invasion.

Moscow has more than 100,000 troops at different spots along its border with Ukraine, which US intelligence agencies say could suggest an attack on the neighboring country is imminent.

The crisis has also seen Russian and western officials clash over the supply of natural gas to Europe.

As Russia has increased its military presence near Ukraine, it has also reduced its deliveries of natural gas, causing prices across much of central and western Europe to soar.

With European leaders looking for potential alternative sources, Australia said Thursday that it was willing to supply “affordable” natural gas to its European “allies” in the event that Russia decided to cut off supply to Europe as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

“We’ve got the gas. Australia has the gas and that puts us in an extremely strong position to support customers and allies as they need it,” Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor said at a press conference.

Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of liquefied natural gas. EFE


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