Ns News Online Desk: Russia threatened Wednesday to take “retaliatory measures” if the US and its allies reject Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security demands — ratcheting up already high tensions between Washington and Moscow over the potential invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin has called on the US to provide written guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states would never be allowed to join NATO, and wants the Western alliance to roll back troop deployments in Eastern Europe.
Russia, which has stationed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, denies it is preparing to launch an invasion, saying instead it is countering military actions by the US and its European allies.
“If the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said written replies will be sent this week, and Lavrov said he and other top Kremlin officials will advise Putin on the next steps after receiving them. CNN reported Wednesday morning that the formal response could be dispatched as soon as that day.
The US has made clear that the main Russian demands are “non-starters,” as top State Department official Wendy Sherman put it earlier this month.
As Russia waits for a reply, Lavrov warned Wednesday that the Kremlin would not wait forever for a response, saying: “We won’t allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions.”
At the same time, Russia dismissed President Biden’s Tuesday comments about slapping sanctions on Putin personally, saying such a move would be “politically destructive.” “There will be enormous consequences if he were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country — or a lot less than as well — for Russia, not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences,” Biden told reporters, referring to Putin.
A senior White House official on Tuesday added the administration was “prepared to implement sanctions with massive consequences that were not considered in 2014,” when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
NATO bolstered its defensive presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland following the invasion of Crimea. On Monday, the 30-member alliance announced that it would deploy additional ships and jet fighters to bolster “deterrence” in the region.
NATO said Denmark would send a frigate to the Baltic Sea and was ready to dispatch four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania. Spain would deploy ships to join NATO naval forces and was considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria, while France has said it is willing to send troops to Romania.