Russia-Ukraine tensions: Russia pessimistic that US will meet demands

Russia-Ukraine tensions: Russia pessimistic that US will meet demands
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about Russia and Ukraine during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/Pool via REUTERS

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Today, there are an estimated 100,000 troops at the Russia-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia is looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denies it intends to invade and says that the troops have been positioned there for self-defense. Meanwhile, they’ve sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO.
  • With this, NATO members are trying to ensure that they have a united front on how to respond if Russia does invade Ukraine; this includes the military pushback and economic consequences, like sanctions against the Russian economy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • This week, the United States told Russia in an official document – that won’t be made public – that it wouldn’t ban Ukraine from entering NATO. Still, it would look to work with Russia in ways and areas where Russia and the West have mutual interests. Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany also had a long eight-hour meeting that Ukraine’s head of the presidential administration called a “small step forward.”

The development:

  • In response to the US’ letter, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia sees “no positive reaction” from the US on Moscow’s main security demands.
  • Lavrov also added that Putin would “decide on our next steps,” according to Russian media Interfax. This is after Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the US’ responses did not provide “much cause for optimism.”
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that he’s hopeful that Russia will remain engaged in diplomatic negotiations for at least the next two weeks.
  • Former Russian President and senior security official Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped that a clash between NATO and Russia “never happens.” He added to Russian news agency RIA that, “It would be the most dramatic, simply catastrophic scenario.”
  • Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hopped on a call with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, asking China to use its influence with Moscow over the situation. Beijing said it wanted all sides to remain calm and “refrain from doing things that agitate tensions and hype up the crisis."
  • At a State Department News conference, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said, “We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either. There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere."

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