Russia presses West for guarantees amid Ukraine tensions

MOSCOW (AP) — A senior Russian diplomat warned the United States and its NATO allies Friday that their own security would suffer if they “torpedo” providing Russia with certain military guarantees.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the West to provide guarantees that would preclude NATO from expanding to Ukraine or deploying troops and weapons there. Putin brought it up during a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden this week. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said during a news conference Friday that while it would be “naïve” to expect to get those security guarantees soon, Moscow remains committed to seeing them made.

“If our opponents on the other side — first and foremost the U.S., but also other countries, allies, the so-called allies of the U.S. — refuse, try to torpedo the whole thing, they will inevitably encounter a further worsening of their own security situation,” Ryabkov said. 

Tensions between Moscow and the West have worsened in recent weeks over a Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine that stoked fears about a possible invasion. Russian officials have repeatedly denied plans to attack Ukraine and in turn blamed Kyiv for its own allegedly aggressive designs. 

Ukraine is not a NATO member but has strong backing from the military alliance. Ryabkov said Friday that NATO's military infrastructure is getting “as close as possible” to Russia “despite warnings.” 

Ryabkov urged NATO to "seriously consider" Russia's proposal of a moratorium on deploying short- and intermediate-rage missiles in Europe, saying Moscow considers such deployments “a direct path to accelerating confrontation.” 

“Before it’s too late, we need to avoid a new missile crisis in Europe,” the deputy foreign minister said. 

After his call with Putin, Biden announced future talks between the U.S., its top NATO allies and Russia to address some of Moscow’s security concerns.

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