The Kremlin on Thursday warned that there was “not much reason to be optimistic” that the West would respond to Russia’s demands in its confrontation with Ukraine, but said that President Vladimir V. Putin would take time to study it. written responses submitted by the United States and NATO the day before deciding how to proceed.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters: “All these papers belong to the president. “Of course it will take some time to analyze them – we won’t rush to any conclusions.”
Peskov did not discuss the content of the responses, which the United States has asked to be kept confidential. However, he said that based on public comments about the last names of Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, there is little chance the West will give in to Russia’s central demands. .
“There’s not much reason to be optimistic,” Peskov said, responding to a question about whether Russia was satisfied with the West’s responses. “But I will continue not to make any conceptual evaluations.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, similarly negative, said in the comments published on the ministry’s website that the US document gave no “positive response” to key Russian requests.
The comments by Russian officials come as Russia is building up its troops near Ukraine, and hours after the overnight shooting at a Ukrainian missile factory serves as a reminder of the expected military situation. fragile on the ground. There was no immediate evidence that the shooting was related to military tensions in the region.
As the West fears a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow last month published a list of demands related to NATO’s withdrawal of troops from Eastern Europe, and pledged never to allow the withdrawal of troops from eastern Europe. allow Ukraine to participate. Russia has requested a written response that the United States and NATO submitted on Wednesday.
Mr. Lavrov said that while the US response included initiatives that could be considered “the start of a serious conversation”, there was no sign of progress on Russia’s preference for withdrawing. NATO presence in Eastern Europe. He said that consultations among Russian government officials would be followed by a briefing with Mr Putin, who “will decide our next steps.”
Mr. Putin, who was silent? in public about the Ukraine crisis since December, visited a cemetery in St.Petersburg on Thursday to mark the 78th anniversary of the end of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, in which Mr. Putin’s brother died at a young age. State television showed a short clip of Putin, in a black coat, placing flowers on a wreath in the snow. Peskov said the president is not planning other public events.
For now, officials on all sides say there is still a diplomatic opportunity to resolve the crisis.
Senior Ukrainian and Russian officials met face-to-face in Paris for eight hours on Wednesday in a session brokered by France and Germany. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Thursday described the talks as a positive development, but stressed the importance of observing a ceasefire in the eastern Ukraine region known as the Donbas, where violence occasional flare-ups. lingering smoldering conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.
“For our country, the first priority at the moment is to achieve stable and unconditional tranquility in the Donbas,” he said in a statement.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksei Zaytsev said another meeting scheduled to take place in Berlin in two weeks could determine “the solution to the problems that have been piling up for seven years”. And he reiterated assertions by Russian officials that their country has no plans to attack Ukraine.
“We find it unacceptable even to think about war among our peoples,” Zaytsev said, according to Interfax news agency.
But analysts say it’s very likely Putin’s diplomats don’t know what exactly is their president planning. The Kremlin is seeking to rewrite the post-Cold War European order to give Russia a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe – something Mr. Putin says is crucial to Russia’s long-term security. Mr. Putin has threatened unspecified “military-technical” measures if the West does not comply with Russia’s demands.
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