Russia keeps door open after US rejects key security demands
Russia keeps door open after US rejects key security demands

MOSCOW: Russia said on Thursday it was clear the United States was not willing to address its main security concerns, but kept the door open for further dialogue in their standoff over Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow, which has built up its forces near Ukraine, would not rush to draw conclusions after Washington responded on Wednesday to Russian proposals for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.

Describing tensions in Europe as reminiscent of the Cold War, Peskov said Moscow needed time to review the U.S. written response but U.S. and NATO statements that Russia’s main demands were unacceptable did not leave much room for optimism.

“Based on what our colleagues said yesterday, it’s absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents... we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account,” he said. “But we won’t rush with our assessments.”

The nuanced Kremlin reaction made clear that Russia was not rejecting the U.S. and NATO responses out of hand or closing the door to diplomacy. The Russian foreign ministry said the best way to reduce tensions was for NATO to withdraw forces from eastern Europe, but also sought to quash fears of a looming invasion.

“We have already repeatedly stated that our country does not intend to attack anyone. We consider even the thought of a war between our people to be unacceptable,” said Alexei Zaitsev, a ministry spokesman.

Russian and Ukrainian dollar bonds, which have been hammered by the crisis, rose after Peskov spoke. Russia’s dollar-denominated RTS share index rose 4%, and the rouble gained over 1% against the dollar, pulling away from a nearly 15-month low.

Though it denies planning to invade Ukraine, Russia says it wants to enforce “red lines” to protect its own security.

It presented demands in December that NATO halt any further enlargement, bar Ukraine from ever joining and pull back forces and weaponry from eastern European countries that joined the alliance after the Cold War ended.

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