Russia refuses to provide guarantee of troop drawdown on Ukraine’s border at Russia-NATO talks
Russia has not shown a commitment to de-escalation, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said at a briefing following NATO-Russia Council talks in Brussels on Jan. 12.
Sherman then added that Russia did not show signs that it would not de-escalate in the future, however.
The deputy secretary said that she found it hard to understand why Russia, one of the world’s biggest nuclear and military powers, would claim to be intimidated by the much smaller Ukraine, and expressed her confusion at Russia saying “security threats” were the cause for its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border.
According to Sherman, the United States and NATO allies believed in a possibility of meaningful progress and reciprocal measures in the dialogue with Russia. However, some of the core proposals put on the table by Moscow were non-starters, such as a ban on NATO’s eastward expansion, and a reversal of NATO borders to 1997.
“We will not slam the door shut on NATO's open-door policy,” affirmed Sherman.
After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was very clear on the fact that NATO would not walk away from one of its key principles, the right of each country “to choose their own path.”
Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to be deployed on the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
Fears of a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late October when Russian troops began building up on the Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead demanding that it be given so-called “security guarantees” by the United States and NATO.
The situation on Ukraine's eastern border is a matter of deep concern for both U.S. and EU officials. U.S. legislators have introduced a bill that would act as a comprehensive sanctions package on Russia if it does invade Ukraine, including cutting Russia off from the U.S. and European banking systems.
According to U.S. President Joe Biden, these measures would be “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people believe he may do.”
The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, previously stated that the Ukrainian government deemed the threat of a direct Russian invasion unlikely. However, in early December, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Russian aggression towards Ukraine could intensify in late January 2022.
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