After Putin’s statements on Ukraine, Washington is ready to start a diplomatic dialogue with Moscow
A senior White House official said Thursday that the United States is ready to “start a diplomatic dialogue” with Russia, in the first reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference, in which he stressed his desire to avoid conflict in Ukraine.
The official added that the White House is ready to negotiate bilaterally or multilaterally through “several channels”, starting from the beginning of next January, with conditions, explaining that the date and place of the first meeting has not been determined.
He stressed that “there are points raised by Russia that we think we can discuss, (in exchange for) other points that (the Russians) know that we will not accept at all.”
He stressed, “Any dialogue must be based on the principle of reciprocity, meaning that our concerns are also put on the table.”
“We continue to closely monitor the alarming movements of Russian forces and deployments on the border with Ukraine,” the same source said.
He stressed that the United States and its allies were at the same time preparing to impose “severe sanctions” if Moscow attacked Ukraine.
Prior to that, Russian President Putin reiterated Thursday his desire to avoid conflict in Ukraine, calling on the West to respond immediately to his demands for security guarantees.
“This is not our preferred option. We do not want that to happen,” Putin said – at his annual press conference – referring to the possibility of a war in Ukraine.
Putin added that Russia had received a generally positive response to the security proposals it submitted to the United States this month, and that negotiations would begin at the beginning of next year in Geneva.
“I hope the situation will move forward in this way,” the Russian president added.
Putin’s voice rose when he referred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – what he described – deceiving Russia with successive waves of expansion since the Cold War. He said that Moscow needs an immediate response in this regard.
“You have to give us guarantees right away… now,” Putin added.
Previously, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that his country had submitted to the United States its proposals regarding the timing of the start of negotiations on security guarantees, and is awaiting Washington’s response.
This comes while the European Union and NATO reiterated their support for Ukraine, which is threatened as a result of Russia’s buildup of military forces on its borders.
In a telephone conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, EU High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell renewed his call on Moscow to “de-escalate” and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
A statement issued Thursday evening in Brussels said that Borrell “stressed that any new military aggression against Ukraine would have serious consequences and high costs.”
Contacts and discussions
For his part, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had telephone conversations on the Ukraine file with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Birbock and with British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
Stoltenberg said on Twitter that he had discussed with them the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on the security of allies.
“We will do what is necessary to ensure the security and defense of all NATO allies, while remaining open to dialogue” with Russia, he added.
Washington reported that Stoltenberg and Blinken confirmed that NATO was “ready to have a constructive dialogue” with Moscow.
The comments come in light of high tension between Russia and NATO, with Ukraine and other countries in the Baltic region seeking to join the alliance.
Drills and exercises
Despite the atmosphere of optimism that followed Moscow’s assertion that negotiations on security guarantees would start, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s expressing readiness to meet Putin, Russia and Ukraine launched separate exercises and maneuvers.
In Ukraine, exercises with US-made munitions were launched in the separatist region in the east of the country, during which the US Javelin anti-tank missile was used for the first time.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that there are more than 200,000 Russian soldiers near his country’s borders.
On the other hand, on Thursday, the Russian paratroopers carried out extensive exercises in the Obock military field in the Crimea, where the Ministry of Defense indicated that biological and chemical defense units are participating in the exercises that simulate the scenario of protecting the armed forces from drone attacks, as well as countering the enemy’s attack.