Ukraine Crisis: Warnings from Moscow – Diplomacy in Paris

As of: 01/26/2022 5:48 p.m

In the Ukraine conflict, Russia has warned the US against direct sanctions against President Putin – that would “seriously damage” diplomatic efforts. Meanwhile, talks in the Normandy format are taking place again in Paris.

Russia has warned the US of direct sanctions against President Vladimir Putin over tensions over Ukraine. “Politically it’s not painful, it’s destructive,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Sanctions against Putin are pointless because senior Russian officials are banned from owning assets abroad. However, such a move would seriously harm diplomatic efforts, he warned.

US President Joe Biden had said the day before that he could imagine punitive measures against Putin in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, he stressed that the US has no plans to send troops to Ukraine. However, the US Department of Defense has put 8,500 soldiers on high alert who could be deployed to Eastern Europe.

Normandy format talks

In order to ease the situation, Germany and France are holding talks in the so-called Normandy format with the conflicting parties in Paris. In addition to German and French diplomats, the Kremlin’s Ukraine envoy, Dmitry Kozak, and the senior Ukrainian presidential adviser, Andriy Yermak, are taking part in the meeting at the Elysée Palace in Paris. The Normandy format was created in 2014 to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Peskow had previously said that the meeting was expected to be a “long, open and fruitful discussion”. The result should be maximum. It is difficult to assess how high this maximum will be.

In the Ukraine conflict, negotiations in the “Normandy format” are resumed today

Sabine Rau, ARD Paris, daily news at 5:00 p.m., January 26, 2022

USA: Imminent attack possible

Because of the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, Kiev and the West fear an attack by Russia. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said again today that military action is expected to continue in the near future. “I have no idea if he made a final decision,” she said, referring to Putin. “But all indications are that he will use military force at some point perhaps between now and mid-February.” In the event of an attack, the West has also generally threatened Moscow with severe sanctions.

Russia denies the allegations and says it feels threatened by Ukraine and NATO. The Kremlin has demanded comprehensive written guarantees from NATO and the US, including a refusal to continue NATO’s eastward expansion and to renounce US military bases in countries in the former Soviet sphere of influence. Moscow is expecting a written US response to the demands this week.

Lavrov warns the US

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that once received, he and other senior officials would advise Putin on next steps. Although Russia is waiting for the American response, it will not do so forever. “We will not allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions.” The minister warned that “all necessary measures” would be taken if no constructive answers were received and the West continued its “aggressive policy”.

For the Europeans, however, Russia currently sees only a very limited role in the diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis. There is no place for the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the ongoing talks, Lavrov said. He did not rule out the Normandy format.

Against the background of the dispute over German arms deliveries to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has meanwhile warned of a split in the West. “Our strongest weapon is and remains our unity. We have to let the pressure that we have built up together work,” she said before a meeting with her Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra. At the same time, one must defend oneself against “all attempts from outside that aim to divide us”.

Romania calls for more NATO presence

In view of the tensions surrounding Ukraine, concerns are also growing in neighboring EU and NATO country Romania. “We are ready to accommodate a larger presence of the (NATO) alliance,” said President Klaus Iohannis in a televised address. They want to actively campaign for more NATO troops on Romanian territory. The President also called on NATO and the EU for “unity and solidarity” in the conflict.

In the “security crisis created by Russia,” not only the security of Ukraine is at stake, and not just that of Europe, but that of “the entire Euro-Atlantic area,” emphasized Iohannis. In the event that Russia “rejects the path of dialogue” and hostilities break out, Romania is preparing, among other things, for incoming refugees.

Meanwhile, arms deliveries for the separatists are being discussed in Russia. The Kremlin party United Russia proposed officially supplying military supplies to the Moscow-loyal separatist areas in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk. This would be a reaction to arms deliveries from the United States and Great Britain to the Ukrainian army, it said. For years, Russia has been criticized internationally for supplying weapons to the breakaway regions and for having its own soldiers deployed there. The Kremlin repeatedly rejects this.

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