Russia responds to US proposal to defuse Ukraine crisis


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Russian government has sent a written response to a U.S. proposal aimed at defusing the Ukraine crisis, according to three Biden administration officials. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Russian government has sent a written response to a U.S. proposal aimed at defusing the Ukraine crisis, according to three Biden administration officials.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity. The Russian response comes as the Biden administration continues to pressure the Kremlin to defuse a growing crisis on the Ukrainian border, where some 100,000 Russian troops have massed.

A State Department official declined to provide details of the response, saying it “would be counterproductive to negotiate in public” and would leave it to Russia to discuss its counter-proposal.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia on Monday accused the West of “stirring up tensions” over Ukraine and said the United States had brought “pure Nazis” to power in Kiev as the The UN Security Council was holding a heated and bellicose debate over Moscow’s troop build-up near its southern neighbor.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield countered that the growing Russian military force of more than 100,000 soldiers along Ukraine’s borders was “the biggest mobilization” in Europe in decades, adding that there had been an upsurge in cyberattacks and Russian disinformation.

“And they are trying, without any factual basis, to portray Ukraine and Western countries as aggressors to fabricate a pretext for the attack,” she said.

The tough exchanges in the Security Council came as Moscow lost an attempt to block the meeting and reflected the rift between the two nuclear powers. It was the first public session where all the protagonists of the Ukrainian crisis spoke publicly, even if the most powerful organ of the UN did nothing.

Although more high-level diplomacy is expected this week, talks between the United States and Russia have so far failed to ease tensions in the crisis, with the West saying Moscow is bracing for a invasion. Russia denies any intention to attack. It demands promises that Ukraine will never join NATO, a halt to the deployment of NATO weapons near Russia’s borders and a withdrawal of alliance forces from Eastern Europe. NATO and the United States call these non-starters.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the Biden administration of “stirring up tensions and rhetoric and provoking escalation.”

“You almost shoot for that,” he said, looking at Thomas-Greenfield. “You want this to happen. You wait for it to happen, as if you want to make your words come true.

He blamed the United States for the 2014 ouster of a pro-Kremlin president in Kyiv, saying it brought “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis” to power and created the antagonism that exists between Ukraine and Russia.

“If they hadn’t, we would live to this day in the spirit of good neighborly relations and mutual cooperation,” Nebenzia said. “However, some in the West just don’t like this positive scenario. What is happening today is another attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Ukraine.

Nebenzia ostensibly left the council chamber when Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya began to speak. “How long will Russia press, pursue a clear attempt to push Ukraine and its partners into Kafka’s trap?” asked Kyslytsva.

The vote on holding a public meeting passed 10 to 2, with Russia and China opposing, and India, Gabon and Kenya abstaining. Nine “yes” votes were needed for the meeting to take place.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said he voted against the public meeting because “what we urgently need now is quiet diplomacy, not megaphone diplomacy.”

The United States and its allies had been pushing for the meeting to be held on Monday, the last day of Norway’s rotating presidency of the council, before Russia took over on Tuesday for the month of February.

Any Security Council statement or resolution is extremely unlikely, given Russia’s veto power and its ties to other Council members, including China.

After all 15 council members spoke, the United States and Russia quarreled again, with Thomas-Greenfield saying she was “disappointed” with Nebenzia’s comments, noting that Russian threats of aggression are “provocative.”

“I just say this to Russia: your actions will speak for themselves,” the US envoy said.

Nebenzia fired back: “All we wanted to say is in our statement today. However, we simply do not understand what threats, provocations and escalations from Russia are being talked about. »

US President Joe Biden said in a statement that the meeting was “a crucial step in rallying the world to speak with one voice” to reject the use of force and seek military de-escalation.

At the start of a White House meeting with Qatar’s ruling emir, Biden said the US continued to engage in ‘relentless diplomacy’ but ‘we are ready no matter what’ .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made no visible progress in easing tensions when they met in Geneva earlier this month. They are expected to speak by phone on Tuesday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. A senior State Department official confirmed the Russian account.

Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a phone call on Thursday that there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could begin an incursion in February, but the Ukrainian leader sought to play down war fears, saying the Western alarm over an impending invasion had prompted many investors in the country’s financial markets to cash in.

Zelenskyy said on Friday that ‘we are not seeing a bigger escalation than before’, and accused Russia’s rise could be an attempt by Moscow to exert ‘psychological pressure’ and sow panic .

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with Zelenskyy, and will also meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to “take a step back”, Johnson’s office said. Johnson says he plans to send hundreds of British troops to NATO countries in the Baltic region as a show of force.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Thomas-Greenfield said of Russia: “We come into the room ready to listen to them, but we’re not going to be distracted by their propaganda.”

She said last week that Council members “must look carefully at the facts and consider what is at stake for Ukraine, for Russia, for Europe and for the fundamental obligations and principles of the international order if Russia is further invading Ukraine”.

On Friday, Chinese Ambassador Zhang said both sides had shown their willingness to continue negotiations and should be allowed to continue.

On Sunday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez said that in the event of an attack, lawmakers want Russia to face “the mother of all sanctions.” This includes actions against Russian banks that could severely undermine the Russian economy and increased lethal aid to the Ukrainian military.

The sanctions under consideration would apparently be much harsher than those imposed after Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014. These sanctions have been considered ineffective.

Menendez also raised the prospect of imposing punishments preemptively, before any invasion.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the administration was encouraged by the bipartisan effort in Congress “to hold Russia accountable.” The administration has previously expressed concern that preemptive sanctions could diminish its leverage over Russia, but the White House has warmed to the prospect as the Foreign Relations Committee prepares to act.

“Our view is that sanctions can be an effective deterrent, and deepening the sell-off in Russian markets reflects our message to Russia,” Psaki said.


Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee in Washington, and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s articles on the crisis in Ukraine at:

Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press


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