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Russia says it won’t start war as tensions in Ukraine rise

Russia’s top diplomat said on Friday that Moscow would not start a war, but warned it would not allow the West to trample its security interests amid fears it was planning to invade Russia. ‘Ukraine

US President Joe Biden warned the Ukrainian president a day earlier that there was a “strong possibility” that Russia would take military action against its neighbor in February.

“There will be no war as it depends on the Russian Federation, we don’t want war,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a live interview with Russian radio stations. “But we will not allow our interests to be grossly trampled on and ignored.”

Tensions have skyrocketed in recent weeks, and the United States and its NATO allies fear that the concentration of about 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine heralds Moscow’s intention to attack the former -Soviet state. Russia has repeatedly denied having such plans, but has demanded that NATO promise that Ukraine will never be allowed to join and that the alliance cancel deployments of troops and military equipment to Eastern Europe. East.

The United States and NATO formally rejected those demands this week, though Washington has outlined areas where talks are possible, perhaps offering a path to de-escalation.

Russia’s official response to these proposals – and the ultimate decision to invade – rests with President Vladimir Putin, but the Kremlin has sounded a grim note so far, saying there is “little reason to be optimistic”.

Lavrov noted on Friday that the United States had suggested the two sides could discuss limits on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles, restrictions on military exercises and rules to prevent accidents between warships and aircraft. He said Russia had offered to discuss these issues years ago – but Washington and its allies had never addressed them until now.

While calling US offers for dialogue on confidence-building measures reasonable, he underlined that Russia’s main concerns were to stop NATO expansion and the deployment of alliance weapons near Russian borders. . He noted that international agreements state that one nation’s security should not come at the expense of others – and that he would send letters asking his Western counterparts to uphold this obligation.

“It will be difficult for them not to answer why they are not fulfilling the obligations sealed by their leaders not to strengthen their security at the expense of others,” he said.

As tensions mount, Washington has warned Moscow of devastating sanctions if it invades Ukraine, including sanctions targeting senior Russian officials and key economic sectors. Several senior U.S. officials also said on Thursday that Germany would not allow a newly constructed gas pipeline – which is intended to bring gas directly from Russia – to begin operations if Russia invades Ukraine.

Asked about possible sanctions, Lavrov said Moscow had warned Washington that introducing them would amount to a complete severance of ties.

As Moscow and the West ponder their next steps, NATO has said it is strengthening its deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, and the United States has ordered 8,500 troops to stand by. alert for a potential deployment in Europe.

Russia has launched a series of military exercises involving motorized infantry and artillery units in southwestern Russia, warplanes in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, dozens of warships in the sea Black and the Arctic. The Russian military has also moved troops to Belarus, which borders Ukraine, for joint sweeping exercises, raising fears in the West that Moscow could stage an attack from the north.

As concerns grow over an invasion, Ukraine is already embroiled in conflict. After the 2014 ouster of a Kremlin-friendly president in Kyiv, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and backed an insurgency in the country’s eastern industrial heartland. Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels has killed more than 14,000 people and efforts to reach a settlement have stalled.

The Independent Gt

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