Jan 27, 2022 - World

Kremlin says U.S. written responses ignored Russia's main NATO demand

Sergey Lavrov

Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that the United States' written answers to Russia's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to the Kremlin's top priority, which is a freeze on NATO expansion, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: A spokesperson for the Kremlin stressed that no conclusions will be drawn until Russian President Vladimir Putin has time to analyze the papers, but a lack of movement on Russia's core concerns means the crisis over Ukraine is unlikely to de-escalate.

The big picture: Following two weeks of fruitless diplomatic talks, Russia called on its Western interlocutors to formally address its demands for a freeze on NATO expansion (especially for Ukraine) and a rollback of forces to 1997 borders.

  • The U.S. and NATO submitted their written proposals Wednesday in an effort to provide a "diplomatic path forward," while warning that Russia could invade Ukraine in a matter of days.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg both said there were no concessions on key issues like NATO's "open door policy."
  • Instead, they outlined areas of possible cooperation on arms control and increased transparency around military exercises.

What they're saying: Lavrov said in a statement that the written responses from the U.S. provide "hope of starting serious dialogue, but only on secondary questions and not on the fundamental ones."

What to watch: With more than 120,000 troops continuing to mass on Ukraine's borders, all eyes now turn to Putin for what comes next.

  • "All these papers are with the president," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday. "There will of course be some time needed to analyze them — we won’t rush to any conclusions."
  • "There is not much cause for optimism," he added.
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