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Russia says Ukraine talks hit ‘dead end’, Poland warns of risk of war

Russia says Ukraine talks hit 'dead end', Poland warns of risk of war
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US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin during the NATO-Russia Council meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium January 12, 2022. Olivier Huslet/Pool via Reuters

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  • Ryabkov says experts are making military options for Putin
  • Envoy says Russia wants peace but not at any price
  • Polish foreign minister says Europe is closest to war in 30 years
  • US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe rejects Russian ‘blackmail’

VIENNA/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Europe is closer to war than at any other time in the past 30 years, Poland’s foreign minister said on Thursday, as Russia gave a grim assessment of diplomatic efforts this week to defuse tensions over Ukraine.

Russia said it had reached a dead end as it tried to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and to undo decades of alliance expansion in Europe.

She offered a stark view before the end of this week’s security meetings, with talks taking place in Vienna on Thursday at the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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Without naming Russia in his address to envoys from 57 OSCE member states, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau mentioned tensions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, all countries with active or frozen conflicts allegedly involving Russia. Read more

“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE region is greater now than at any time in the past 30 years,” he said.

“For several weeks we have been facing the possibility of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” he said, kicking off his country’s year-long presidency of the region’s largest security organization.

No breakthrough was mentioned at the meeting.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RTVI in an interview that Russian military specialists are presenting options to President Vladimir Putin in the event of a deterioration of the situation around Ukraine, but diplomacy should be given a chance.

However, he said talks with the United States in Geneva on Monday and with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday showed there was a “deadlock or difference of methods”, and that he saw no reason to sit down again in the coming days to put things right. Start the same discussions.

The US envoy to the OSCE talks said the West should not succumb to blackmail. Read more

Russia forced the United States and its allies to the negotiating table by massing some 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, while denying its plans to invade. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that US demands for them to withdraw were unacceptable.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Despite the unsatisfactory week of the great diplomacy of Russia, I think that the only way for the Russians to confirm their unwillingness to solve problems by force is to continue the discussion in the established formats, in particular in the OSCE.”

eliminate threats

A barrage of pessimistic comments from Russian ministers and officials is casting doubt on the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough at one of the most dangerous moments in East-West relations since the Cold War.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told the OSCE: “If we do not hear a response based on our proposals within a reasonable time frame and aggressive behavior towards Russia continues, we will have to draw appropriate conclusions and take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security.” .

He continued, “Russia is a peace-loving country. But we do not need peace at any price. The need to obtain these official security guarantees for us is unconditional.”

His rhetoric was in line with the pattern of recent statements in which Russia said it wanted a diplomatic solution but also rejected calls to reverse the buildup of its forces and warned of unspecified consequences for Western security if its demands were not heeded.

The United States says Moscow’s calls to veto Ukrainian membership and halt NATO military activity in Eastern Europe are not primitive, but it is ready to talk about arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures.

Russia says that after decades of NATO expansion, it is determined to draw red lines and prevent the alliance from accepting Ukraine as a member or establishing missile bases there.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks with Russia on Wednesday that countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized a sanctions bill unveiled by Senate Democrats on Wednesday that would target senior Russian government and military officials, including Putin, as well as major banking institutions, if Russia attacks Ukraine. Read more

Peskov said that punishing Putin would be tantamount to severing ties.

“We view the emergence of such documents and statements very negatively against the background of a series of ongoing negotiations, albeit unsuccessful,” he said.

“As we prepare for an open dialogue about how to advance security for the benefit of all, we must decisively reject blackmail and never allow aggression and threats to be rewarded,” US Ambassador Michael Carpenter told the OSCE meeting.

Russia said it would decide its next steps after this week’s talks. It threatened unspecified “technical military measures” if its demands were rejected.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday that if Russia pulled out, it would show it wasn’t serious about diplomacy in the first place.

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Additional reporting by Francois Murphy, Tom Palmforth, Paulina Devitt and Alexandre Marrow.

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