Russia says no new talks on Ukraine until West responds to demands

Moscow has denied it is planning to attack Ukraine and accuses the United States and NATO of ignoring its security concerns

Moscow on Tuesday rejected fresh talks on Ukraine unless the West responds to its demands, as the US and NATO pushed for more negotiations to avert a possible Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s borders, efforts have intensified to prevent a conflict and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was preparing to fly to Kyiv for talks on Wednesday.

Talks in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna last week failed to ease fears, with Russia insisting its demands for sweeping security guarantees — including a permanent ban on Ukraine joining NATO — be taken seriously.

A readout from the Russian foreign ministry said Lavrov told Blinken that Moscow needs “concrete article-by-article” answers to its demands “as soon as possible”. 

“We are now awaiting responses to these proposals — as we were promised — in order to continue negotiations,” he said at a joint press conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also left the door open to more talks, saying he had invited Russia and NATO allies to a series of discussions in the NATO-Russia Council “in the near future”.

The State Department said Blinken would fly to Ukraine and meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, to “reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Blinken will head to Berlin on Thursday for four-way talks with Britain, France and Germany on the Ukraine crisis. 

According to respected Russian newspaper Kommersant, Blinken and Lavrov have also agreed to hold talks in Geneva on Friday. 

Kyiv has been at war with pro-Moscow separatists in the east of the country since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine after demonstrations ousted a Kremlin-aligned leader. 

The Belarusian defence ministry said it was hosting the combat readiness drills because of the continuing “aggravation” of military tensions “including at the western and southern borders of the Republic of Belarus.”

Neither Moscow nor Minsk has disclosed the number of troops involved, but a video published by the Belarusian defence ministry showed columns of military vehicles including tanks being unloaded from trains blanketed in snow.

NATO member Turkey also warned Moscow against invading Ukraine, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying on Tuesday that he intends to discuss rising tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey has supplied combat drones to Ukrainian forces, drawing fierce criticism from Moscow.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced in parliament on Monday that Britain is sending weapons to Ukraine as part of a package that would help Kyiv secure its borders.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday described the announcement of the shipments as “extremely dangerous” and “not conducive to reducing tensions”.

Originally published as Russia says no new talks on Ukraine until West responds to demands

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