Moscow could raise the bar if the West ignores demands

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MOSCOW (AP) – Russia could take unspecified further steps to ensure its security if the United States and its allies continue to take provocative measures and ignore Moscow’s demand for guarantees preventing NATO expansion in Ukraine a senior diplomat said on Saturday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused Western allies of continually pushing the boundaries of relations with Russia and warned that Moscow could also raise the bar if the West does not take its demands seriously.

Ryabkov’s statement in an interview with the Interfax news agency came a day after Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other countries in the ex-Soviet Union and cancel alliance military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe – bold ultimatums which are almost certain to be rejected by the United States and its allies.

The publication of the demands – contained in a draft Russian-American security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO – comes amid growing tensions over an accumulation of Russian troops near Ukraine which raised fears of an invasion. Russia has denied that it intends to attack its neighbor, but wants legal guarantees that would exclude NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees during last week’s video call with US President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Biden expressed his concerns about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “serious consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbor.

“They have pushed back the limits of what is possible” on Russia, Ryabkov told Interfax in response to a question about the Western threat of further severe sanctions against Moscow.


“But they fail to consider that we will take care of our security and act in a manner similar to NATO logic and also start to stretch the limits of what is possible sooner or later,” Ryabkov said. “We will find all the means, means and solutions necessary to ensure our safety.”

He did not say what action Russia could take if his demands are rejected by the West.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed on Friday that any security talks with Moscow should take into account the concerns of the transatlantic alliance and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House also said it was discussing the proposals with U.S. allies and partners, but noted that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.

Ryabkov said NATO’s actions have become increasingly provocative, describing them as “poised on the brink of war”. He added that Russia is now keen to hear a Western response before raising the stakes.

“We don’t want conflict. We want to reach an agreement on a reasonable basis, ”he said. “Before drawing any conclusions about what to do next and what actions might be taken, we need to make sure that the answer is no. I hope that the response will be relatively constructive and that we start discussions.

He said the deployment of NATO troops near Russia in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions had called into question Russia’s core security interests, adding that “no one should underestimate Moscow’s determination to protect its national security interests “.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and soon after supported a separatist rebellion in the east of the country. More than seven years of fighting has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heart, known as Donbass.


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