Posted by on January 13, 2022 2:09 pm
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Russian diplomat makes threat of war explicit after ‘dead-end’ talks

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE, Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich speaks during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner) Lisa Leutner/AP

Russian diplomat makes threat of war explicit after ‘dead-end’ talks

Joel Gehrke January 13, 01:11 PMJanuary 13, 01:11 PM

A senior Russian envoy made an overt threat of war if U.S. and Western European leaders continue to resist Moscow’s demands for a practical contraction of NATO.

“Russia is a peace-loving country, but we do not need peace at any cost,” Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

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That threat marked a break in character from much of Moscow’s messaging, as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has insisted that the military forces deployed near Ukraine’s borders do not represent a threat to Ukraine. Lukashevich’s statement was part of a flurry of Russian statements expressing dissatisfaction with the United States following a pair of meetings in which U.S. and NATO officials proposed to start risk reduction talks but rejected Russia’s demand that the alliance return to its 1997 borders.

“We are not going to entertain spheres of influence,” Ambassador Michael Carpenter told reporters following the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe meeting in which Lukashevich aired that threat. “We’re not going to entertain restrictions on the right of nations to choose their own alliances. We’re not going to entertain privileging the security requirements of one state over another.”

RUSSIA, AMID LIVE-FIRE WAR GAMES, MAKES ‘NO COMMITMENT TO DE-ESCALATE’ IN NATO TALKS

U.S. and European officials broadcast that position for weeks prior to the meetings this week in Geneva and Brussels. Russia’s demand struck officials from NATO member states as so extreme that some surmised Putin designed the offer to be rejected in order to create a “pretext for war.” Russian officials heard the refusal in person on Wednesday during a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, and that experience gave way to more explicit threats.

“If we hear no constructive reply to the proposals that have been made within sensible deadlines, and if aggressive behavior towards Russia continues, we will have to derive the corresponding conclusions and to take all necessary measures for ensuring a strategic balance and eliminating unacceptable threats to our security,” Lukashevich told the OSCE.

NATO has accepted new members in multiple waves in the decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, as Central and Eastern European states sought the protection of the security bloc’s collective defense pledge. The alliance agreed in April of 2008 that “Georgia and Ukraine will become members in future,” but the Russian invasion of Georgia later that year threw a wrench into that idea by creating a long-term territorial dispute between Moscow and Tbilisi — a tactic that set a precedent for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014.

“There’s only one state in the OSCE that has invaded two of its neighbors and that stations forces on the territory of other states against their will, and that’s Russia,” Carpenter said. “We hope to have an open and sincere dialogue, as I said earlier, but, you know, we’re going to have to test that. We’re going to have to see if the Russians are prepared to engage.”

That offer applies to matters “in the arena of transparency, deconfliction, communications, arms control, and a whole variety of other areas,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Wednesday, but her Russian counterpart replied Thursday that this proposal represents a “dead end” that he doesn’t want to discuss further and implied that Russia might take additional military steps to increase pressure on NATO.

“The president of Russia has spoken multiple times on the subject of what the measures could be, for example involving the Russian Navy, if things are firmly set on the course of provoking Russia and further increasing the military pressure on us by the US,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday. “We don’t want that. The diplomats must come to an agreement.”

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Lukashevich suggested that the diplomatic process is at a breaking point. “Destabilization of military-political situation has reached its limit, after which a crisis on the continent may arise with unpredictable consequences for European security,” he said.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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