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Russia Warns U.S. It Will 'Eliminate Unacceptable Threats' after Putin-Biden Talks

Newsweek
Newsweek
 2021-12-31

Moscow has issued a warning to the U.S. and NATO not to threaten its security, following talks between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin aimed at defusing tensions over Russia's military buildup by its border with Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov also told state-run news agency RIA that Moscow was committed to defending those in the war-torn Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where "citizens of our country live."

Lavrov's interview was published after a phone call between Biden and Putin in which the U.S. president said it would "respond decisively" if there were any invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told reporters after the call that any stepping up of sanctions by the U.S. against Russia would be a "colossal mistake."

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed by Ukraine's border, the U.S. and its allies have raised the alarm over a possible invasion. Russia says it is acting in response to NATO expansion towards its borders.

Lavrov told RIA that Russia was pushing for a swift resolution to the standoff with Washington and did not want to get bogged down in "endless discussions."

"If there is no constructive response within a reasonable time and the West continues its aggressive line, then Russia will be forced to take all necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our security," Lavrov told the agency.

Since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, an ongoing conflict in the Donbas region by Russia-backed separatists has claimed more than 13,000 lives. The Kremlin officially rejects any Russian involvement in the conflict.

In April 2019, Putin signed a decree to facilitate granting Russian citizenship to residents in Ukraine's Donbas region.

Lavrov appeared to referring to them when he told RIA, "as for the residents of Donbas, where hundreds of thousands of citizens of our country live, Russia will take all necessary measures to protect them."

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Insisting that Moscow would continue to seek a solution via the Minsk agreement struck by Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Lavrov also said there would be an "an adequate response" to any "possible military provocations by Kyiv against Donbas."

During Thursday's call between Putin and Biden, both leaders backed further diplomacy on the standoff but much hinges on negotiations between the countries scheduled for January 10.

Earlier in December, Russia demanded guarantees that there would be no expansion of NATO, of which Ukraine is not a member. Moscow also called for a bar on new U.S. military bases in ex-Soviet countries.

Meanwhile, an op-ed by former and current American officials called on the U.S. and its allies to increase its military support for Kyiv and prepare for the humanitarian consequences of a Russian invasion.

"We believe that NATO should act now to begin bolstering its military presence on its eastern flank," said the piece co-signed by 24 prominent figures, including General Philip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and ex-U.S. ambassador John E. Herbst.

The piece on the Atlantic Council website said the U.S. and its allies "should communicate to Moscow "that Russia's escalation would bring a substantial number of U.S. and Allied forces and a permanent presence in the Baltic states and Black Sea region."

Newsweek has contacted the U.S. State Department for comment.

Comments / 1741

Rod Freeman
12-31

I doubt that USA is naive about anything when it comes to our security. Don't think for a minute that we can't hold our own against any country

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David Hannemann
01-01

Wow! What an amazing diplomat President Biden is. It must have been all those days of experience helping diffuse the war between Israel and Egypt, when he met with that non-existent female Prime Minister. Or perhaps it was how masterfully he lead the withdrawal from Afghanistan. No? Well then it must of been how successful he was at firing a prosecutor of a foreign nation who was investigating the oil company his son worked for, right?

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LeonardBoyles
12-31

Actually whether any of you realize it or not Turkey holds some very important cards in this poker game. A Turkish withdrawal from NATO is almost a death sentence for the western powers. Why?? Look at the map. In order to even reach the Black Sea you have to pass through The Dardanellels Straits and The Bosphorus Strait and you need a certain distance to send any warships, ships of any kind through any waters for it to be considered "international waters" and that distance does not exist here those are Turkish waters and if Turkey is now your enemy how is it even possible for you to defend any NATO countries bordering on the Black Sea?? A Turkish withdrawal will have repercussions don't think that it wouldn't. That will force every country in the region to rethink its own strategies for its own survival. That's where the rearmament of Germany comes into play. It's going to cause a domino effect across the entire region. Make no mistake about it.

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