CrisisWatch U.S./Russia

Deteriorated Situation

Diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington over Russian military build-up in Ukraine and European security more broadly escalated. As U.S. and Russia continued negotiations during month, notably in swiss city Geneva 10 Jan, Moscow continued to demand legally binding guarantees from U.S. and NATO against Ukraine’s accession to NATO and that alliance pull back forces from Eastern Europe. Tensions persisted amid growing Russian military build-up near Ukraine (see Ukraine). U.S. Deputy Sec State Wendy Sherman 18 Jan warned “Russia could launch military attack at any time”; Russian armed forces 18 Jan arrived in Belarus ahead of joint military exercises in country due to run until 20 Feb. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 19 Jan said Russia could attack Ukraine “on very short notice” and warned again of tough sanctions; Moscow 19 Jan claimed it had no intention “to attack, strike or invade Ukraine”, while Head of Russian delegation to Vienna talks on military security and arms control Konstantin Gavrilov warned that “West either accepts our proposals or other ways will be found to ensure Russia’s security”. As Russian FM Sergey Lavrov and Blinken 21 Jan met in Geneva, Russia 21 Jan requested foreign NATO troops withdraw from Romania and Bulgaria. U.S. 24 Jan announced 8,500 soldiers in state of alert ready to be deployed on European soil and Biden same day said he would “personally sanction Russian President Putin” if Russia invades Ukraine; Kremlin next day said sanctions would not be “painful”. U.S. 26 Jan formally rejected Russia’s demand to bar Ukraine from NATO and pushed for diplomatic solution “to maintain and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

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