Putin urges West to agree to security guarantees over Nato
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Russian and US officials met for highly-anticipated talks in Geneva on Monday as tensions rose around the possibility of the Kremlin ordering troops to invade bordering Ukraine. Up to 100,000 Russian troops, along with heavy equipment, are understood to have gathered near the border in recent months.
An official close to Moscow’s team, quoted in Russia Today, said negotiators were meticulous when detailing their proposals for ensuring stability.
They said the Russian delegation “spoon-fed” its proposals for a stable continent in order to avoid “misunderstandings”.
The Russian official remains anonymous.
Their comments could be interpreted either as a sign of genuine intent that conflict is avoided or as a dig at President Biden.
Among Moscow’s proposals was a guaranteed ruling out of further Nato expansion.
Mr Putin is adamant that Ukraine must not become a member of Nato and has been critical of all attempts for the country to form tighter bonds with the West.
Russia’s official stressed the significance of the Nato question among Kremlin leaders.
They said: “[US] evasion is not interesting [to us].”
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During the talks, a Moscow official insisted “we have no plans, no intentions to attack Ukraine”.
But White House sources have suggested the Kremlin may have only held off ordering an attack up to this point due to the warmer-than-usual winter.
An official told the New York Times that muddy ground around the Ukraine border would likely delay any potential attack until February at the earliest.
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In order to keep an eye on the situation, Mr Biden has hired a team of meteorologists.
This will check likely weather conditions in Ukraine over the coming weeks, according to the official, to determine when an attack would be more likely.
While the Geneva have been describe as “frank and forthright”, both sides acknowledge that the dispute is far from over.
On the question of Ukraine’s possible membership of Nato, the US singled that it was as unlikely to back down as Russia.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We will not allow anyone to slam closed Nato’s open-door policy.”
She added that this has “always been central to the Nato alliance”.
Talks will resume later this week.
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