Moscow, January 19
The Biden administration on Wednesday said it was providing an additional USD 200 million in defensive military aid to Ukraine. A senior US State Department official said the assistance was approved in late December as part of American efforts to help Ukraine protect itself. At the same time, Russia maintained a tough posture amid the tensions over its troop buildup near Ukraine, with a top diplomat warning that Moscow would accept nothing less but “watertight” US guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led a delegation at the security talks with the US in Geneva last week, reaffirmed that Moscow had no intentions of invading Ukraine as the West fears, but said that receiving Western security guarantees is the categoric imperative for Moscow.
Amid the soaring tensions, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ukraine on Wednesday to reassure it of Western support and urged western nations to remain united in the face of what he called “relentless” Russian aggression against Ukraine. Blinken also warned that Russia could launch a new attack at very short notice.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia wanted to sow panic and distrust and destabilise Ukraine’s financial system.
Russia has urged NATO to roll back the deployments of its troops and weapons to Central and Eastern European nations that have joined the alliance after the end of the Cold War. Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow’s demands but kept the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures intended to reduce the potential for hostilities.
Ryabkov insisted, however, that there can’t be any meaningful talks on those issues if the West doesn’t heed the main Russian demands for the non-expansion of NATO.
He warned that the Russian demands contained in draft agreements with the US and NATO “constitute a package, and we’re not prepared to divide it into different parts, to start processing some of those at expense of standing idle on others.”
Asked if Russia could accept a moratorium on NATO’s expansion eastward, an idea circulated by some political experts, Ryabkov answered with a firm no, saying that Moscow has seen the West backtracking on previous promises. — Agencies
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