Russia’s reaction to the US and NATO leaves the Ukraine crisis escalating to the brink of war

Kyiv — Russia and NATO are continuing their military build-up around Ukraine, including more Russian fighter jets just across Ukraine’s northern border in Belarus. Russia’s ongoing military exercises with its Belarusian allies have fueled fears that Russia will launch an invasion in Ukraine, as in 2014.

The United States and its NATO allies presented the government of President Vladimir Putin with a written response to their requests for “security guarantees” on Wednesday, hoping to keep the crisis on a diplomatic track. But in the meantime, CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Holly Williams says America and its allies continue to prepare for a possible Russian invasion.

On Thursday, Russia’s foreign minister said Putin had personally reviewed the response hand-delivered by the US ambassador to Moscow. Moscow’s reaction indicated disappointment, but also a decision to keep talking, for now.

The United States responds to Russian demands in a military context…


The biggest “guarantee” sought by the Putin regime is a commitment that NATO will exclude the admission of Ukraine or any of its neighbors as new members of the transatlantic security alliance, withdrawing forces from Russian borders. NATO has boosted troop and arms deployments in the region – in direct response to Russia moving some 100,000 of its forces near Ukraine’s eastern border, and now north to it in Belarus.

The United States and NATO made it clear even before their official response was delivered to Moscow that any ban on new NATO members in Eastern Europe was a “no start”, but they indicated their willingness to discuss other issues, including military exercises, regional weapons deployments and other “confidence-building” actions that may be undertaken by the two sides.

“There was no positive answer to the main question,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a statement on Thursday, referring to Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership. but “there is an answer that gives hope for the start of a serious conversation about secondary school”. questions.”

But while diplomacy looked set to continue, including bilateral talks expected in the coming days between Putin and the French leader, the two arm wrestling parties are keeping the pressure on.

What does Putin want from the Ukrainian crisis?


Russian military exercises continue near the Ukrainian borders.

On Thursday, Moscow accused the United States of planning to position more missiles in the region. A senior Foreign Ministry official warned that such moves risked triggering a “new missile crisis”. His warning came weeks later Russia refused to govern positioning military equipment in Venezuela or Cuba, which echoed the 1962 war cuban missile crisis.

Meanwhile, six US fighter jets have arrived in Estonia to take part in NATO military exercises. Slovakia’s foreign minister said Thursday that NATO is also considering deploying additional troops to his country. Both Estonia and Slovakia are members of NATO. Estonia shares its eastern border with Russia, while Slovakia lies just west of Ukraine.

NATO military deployments like these — in what Russia considers its own backyard — are something the Biden administration has signaled its willingness to negotiate on.

“The placement of offensive missile systems in Ukraine, military exercises and maneuvers in Europe – all of these things would, I think, address mutual concerns, including concerns expressed by Russia,” the secretary said on Wednesday. State Antony Blinken as the US response to Russia’s demands have been met.

Russia launches military exercise with more than 10,000 troops near Ukrainian border
Military units of Russia’s Southern Military District are seen en route to a training site in the south of the country for military exercises, in Rostov, Russia, January 26, 2022.

Russian Defense Ministry/Document/Anadolu Agency/Getty

While the United States and its allies have been keen to emphasize their unity in the face of Russian aggression, some of those allies are heavily dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs, including Europe’s largest economy, Germany. This tested the resolve of the alliance.

Germany is the biggest buyer of Russian natural gas and has refused to send weapons to Ukraine.

But Germany’s top diplomat said on Thursday that the country was in tune with its NATO allies to confront Russia via sanctions, at least – even if that means looking for other gas suppliers, with help from Washington. .

“We are working on a solid set of sanctions,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told her country’s parliament on Thursday, noting that the sanctions could impact the long-awaited commissioning of the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. “, which connects Russia’s suppliers directly with consumers in Western Europe.

The United States has Germany long under pressure to avoid increasing its reliance on Russian energy with the pipeline, and it appears Washington’s assurances – to help organize alternative gas supplies if Germany backs sanctions that affect sales of Russian energy – could have helped board Berlin.

Blinken on responding to Russia’s demands


“If Russia chooses to weaponize its natural gas by cutting supplies to Europe even further than it has already done, we are in discussions with governments and major producers around the world to increase their capacity.” , Blinken said on Wednesday, alluding to discussions with the United States. allies in the Middle East who have their own gas fields.

But as both sides continue to dig, literally and figuratively, along the border between Russia and the European democracies, the Ukrainian people remain stuck in the middle.

At the gold-domed St. Michael’s Monastery in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where worshipers have worshiped for more than 900 years, some Ukrainians told Williams they were praying for peace.

One woman told CBS News she hoped God himself would make sense of Russia.

The United States said that with the delivery of the answer to Russia’s questions on Wednesday, the ball was back in Moscow’s court. With the Kremlin expressing disappointment but not abandoning diplomacy, the next step is still hard to predict.

Christi C. Elwood