Poland warns Europe of war risk as Russia says Ukraine talks deadlocked – National

Poland’s foreign minister said Thursday that Europe is closer to war than at any time in the past 30 years as Russia gave a grim assessment of diplomatic efforts this week to defuse tensions over Ukraine.

Russia said it had reached a dead end as it tried to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and to undo decades of alliance expansion in Europe.

It offered a stark view before this week’s security meetings end, with talks taking place in Vienna on Thursday at the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Without naming Russia in his address to envoys from 57 OSCE member states, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau mentioned tensions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, all countries with active or frozen conflicts allegedly involving Russia.

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He said: “It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE region is greater now than at any time during the past thirty years.”

“We have been facing for several weeks the possibility of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” he said, kicking off his country’s year-long presidency of the region’s largest security organization.

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No breakthrough was mentioned at the meeting.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RTVI in an interview that Russian military specialists are presenting options to President Vladimir Putin in the event of a deterioration of the situation around Ukraine, but diplomacy should be given a chance.

However, he said talks with the United States in Geneva on Monday and with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday showed there was a “deadlock or difference in methods”, and he saw no reason to sit down again in the coming days to restart the same discussions.

The US envoy to the OSCE talks said the West should not succumb to blackmail. Russia forced the United States and its allies to the negotiating table by massing some 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, while denying its plans to invade. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that US demands for them to withdraw were unacceptable.

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Despite the unsatisfactory week of the great diplomacy of Russia, I think that the only way for the Russians to confirm their unwillingness to solve problems by force is to continue the discussion in the established formats, in particular in the OSCE.”

Click to play video: 'Biden warns Putin of 'heavy sanctions' if Russia continues to escalate with Ukraine

Biden warns Putin of “severe sanctions” if Russia continues escalation with Ukraine

Biden warns Putin of ‘hard sanctions’ if Russia continues escalation with Ukraine – December 31, 2021

A barrage of pessimistic comments from Russian ministers and officials is casting doubt on the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough at one of the most dangerous moments in East-West relations since the Cold War.

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Russian Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich told the OSCE: “If we do not hear a response based on our proposals within a reasonable time frame and aggressive behavior towards Russia continues, we will have to draw appropriate conclusions and take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security ” .

He continued: “Russia is a peace-loving country. But we do not want peace at any cost. The need to legally obtain these formal security guarantees for us is unconditional.”

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His rhetoric was in line with the pattern of recent statements in which Russia has said it wants a diplomatic solution but has also rejected calls to back off its troop buildup and warned of unspecified consequences for Western security if its demands are not heeded.

The United States says Moscow’s calls to veto Ukrainian membership and halt NATO military activity in Eastern Europe are not primitive, but it is ready to talk about arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures.

Russia says that after decades of NATO expansion, it is determined to draw red lines and prevent the alliance from accepting Ukraine as a member or establishing missile bases there.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks with Russia on Wednesday that countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized a sanctions bill unveiled by Senate Democrats on Wednesday that would target top Russian government and military officials, including Putin, as well as major banking institutions, if Russia attacks Ukraine.

Russia warns NATO of further deterioration of relations

Russia warns NATO of further deterioration of relations

Peskov said that punishing Putin would be tantamount to severing ties.

“We view the emergence of such documents and statements very negatively against the background of a series of ongoing, albeit unsuccessful, negotiations,” he said.

“As we prepare for an open dialogue about how to advance security for the benefit of all, we must decisively reject blackmail and never allow aggression and threats to be rewarded,” US Ambassador Michael Carpenter told the OSCE meeting.

Russia said it would decide its next steps after this week’s talks. It threatened unspecified “military-technical measures” if its demands were rejected.

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US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday that if Russia pulled out, it would show it wasn’t serious about diplomacy in the first place.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy, Tom Palmforth, Paulina Devitt, and Alexandre Marrow.)

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo