Russia Suggests Military Deployment to Venezuela, Cuba if Tensions With U.S. Remain High

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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov says Moscow cannot exclude both countries from sending ‘military infrastructure’ as tensions with the US rise and says talks have stalled

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“I don’t want to confirm anything, I won’t deny anything … on the actions of our American allies,” Mr. Rybakov told the privately owned Russian-language television network RTVI in an interview on Thursday in Moscow. depends on.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has “spoken repeatedly on this topic, about what measures could be taken by the Russian Navy if things completely go in the direction of provoking Russia and increasing military pressure on us,” Mr. Rybakov said.

Russia does not want to see that outcome, but that “diplomats must come to an agreement,” he said.

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Last month, Mr. Ryabkov told reporters he could not rule out the possibility that relations between Russia and the US could end in a situation similar to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

Mr Ryabkov also said on Thursday that he sees no immediate grounds for renewed talks with the US, after several rounds of talks this week made little progress in de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

The remarks came after several rounds of talks this week between the West and Russia over military build-up along the border with Ukraine. Moscow sent more than 100,000 troops there in response to threats to its security from the West.

On Thursday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a group of 57 countries that helped promote peace during the Cold War, discussed the situation in Ukraine. The talks followed a US-Russia meeting in Geneva on Monday and a NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Those talks failed to resolve the crisis and the prospects for further talks remain uncertain. Ukraine was the focus of talks this week but was not present at the talks in Geneva or Brussels. Thursday’s meeting in Vienna gives Kiev a seat at the table

On Thursday, Mr Rybakov appeared to refuse further talks if Russia’s demands were not met.

“I have always been a supporter of negotiations,” Mr Ryabkov told RTVI, but cautioned that if the talks end with a refusal to halt NATO expansion, it could “to a certain extent, a dead end or approach.” There will be a difference.”

“I see no reason to sit down, regroup and start these same discussions in the coming days,” he said.

Russia’s representative to the OSCE, Alexander Lukachevik, said on Thursday that this week’s discussions have been “really disappointing”, with the US, NATO and other OSCE countries not providing a “very adequate, thorough” response to Russia’s proposals. , which Moscow expected .

However, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, appeared to leave the door open for further talks. He said on Thursday that Moscow was expecting the US and NATO to respond in writing to Russian security proposals soon.

“We still hope that the promises made in Geneva and Brussels will be fulfilled, a promise to put the US and NATO proposals on paper,” he said.

Russia is calling for changes to the Western security system linked to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It has expressed concern over the possibility that former Soviet republics such as Ukraine could join NATO and called on the coalition to halt its eastern expansion, a demand rejected by Western officials.

Neither the NATO meeting, which was between a Russian delegation and representatives of 30 NATO members, nor the US-Russia meeting in Geneva, reached a breakthrough in the standoff over Ukraine.

US officials say his offer to negotiate military and other security issues at the OSCE is part of Mr Putin’s clear choice: On the one hand, a Russian invasion of Ukraine would trigger unprecedented sanctions from the West. On the other hand, bilateral talks between Washington and Moscow, NATO discussions and consultations in the OSCE together offer a way out of the crisis.

A senior State Department official said, “We can talk about things like military transparency, we can talk about conventional forces. We can talk about building confidence, reducing tensions on the ground.” can talk about.” “So yes, we are ready to go to work. But there are a lot of questions about whether Russia is ready to do that.”

Russia has demanded that NATO reduce its military activities among its members that used to be part of the former Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact, such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the principal US negotiator with Russia on Ukraine, has said Washington is open to discussions on the placement of missiles in Europe, reciprocal steps on the size and scope of military exercises, and transparency around military moves.

The OSCE, which handles conventional but not nuclear security, is a forum that potentially allows Washington to bring Ukraine into the discussion about it. Ukraine has been the focus of talks this week between Russia and US-led Western allies, but was not present at the talks in Geneva or Brussels.

Write Ann M. Simmons at [email protected] and Lawrence Norman at [email protected]

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