RUSSIA has ruled out any further talks with the United States and NATO over the situation around Ukraine unless the West responds properly to its security demands.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the remark at a joint press conference with visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday, saying Moscow wanted answers on its security proposals before engaging in further discussions over Ukraine.
‘We are now awaiting responses to these proposals – as we were promised – in order to continue negotiations,’ he said.
‘Let’s hope these talks will continue,’ Lavrov added.
Tensions are rising on the Russian-Ukrainian border, with the US, Ukraine, and several other Western countries accusing Russia of planning ‘an invasion’ of Ukraine amid a military buildup near the Ukrainian border. Moscow rejects the allegations and insists that deployments are defensive in nature.
Last month, the Russian government made demands on NATO and Ukraine about the future of their relationship, calling on the Western military alliance to deny Ukraine membership to NATO and to roll back its military deployments.
Moscow also proposed that the US not establish any military bases in former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, nor develop a bilateral military alliance with them.
Washington has rejected the proposals as ‘non-starters’.
Russia has repeatedly warned that Moscow will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.
Russia held a series of diplomatic meetings with US and its NATO allies last week in Geneva, Brussels, and Vienna over the Ukraine crisis. During the talks, the Russian representatives reiterated Moscow’s demand for security guarantees to be taken seriously.
The Kremlin says the first round of talks with the United States over Ukraine provided no ground for optimism and that further negotiations are necessary to ease tensions between the two sides.
The latest development comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is preparing to fly to Kiev for talks on Wednesday. The State Department announced that Blinken would meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky to ‘reinforce the United States’ commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
Blinken will later head to the German capital, Berlin, on Thursday for four-way talks with Britain, France, and Germany on the Ukraine crisis, the department’s spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
In a call with Lavrov ahead of his trip, Blinken ‘stressed the importance of continuing a diplomatic path to de-escalate tensions,’ Price said in a separate statement.
Meanwhile, the US envoy to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has stressed in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that talks with Russia have not broken down, adding that Washington is ‘continuing to engage’ with Moscow.
‘We’re still talking to the Russians. But we’re also watching their actions, and we’re watching their actions very, very closely’ she said.
In a related development, the Russian Embassy in Washington has called on the United States to abandon plans to provide more weapons to Ukraine.
‘If the United States is truly committed to diplomatic efforts to resolve the intra-Ukrainian conflict, they should abandon plans to supply new batches of weapons for the armed forces of Ukraine. Instead, Washington should use its influence on the Ukrainian authorities to convince them to stop sabotaging the Minsk Agreements,’ the embassy said in a statement on Facebook on Tuesday.
Top US and Russian officials have held high-stakes talks aimed at easing tensions over the thorny issue of Ukraine.
The US authorities have authorised additional military aid to Ukraine worth $200 million. The US intends to provide Ukraine with small arms, ammunition, and medical and radar surveillance equipment.
The statement further said Moscow also called on Washington to end the hysteria around the Donbass issue.
‘We stress once again: Russia is not going to attack anyone. The practice of moving troops on our own soil is a sovereign right.
‘We call to end the hysteria and not to pile on tension around the Donbass problem. And most importantly – not to push ‘hotheads’ in Kiev towards new provocations,’ the statement said.
Ukraine as well as the EU and the US claim that Russia has a hand in an ongoing conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine between government forces and ethnic Russians since 2014. Russia rejects that allegation.
- A senior Iranian Army commander says the Islamic Republic stands ready to provide advanced scientific and military technologies to friendly and neighbourly states.
In a Tuesday meeting with foreign military attachés residing in Iran, Deputy Chief of the Iranian Army for Coordination Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the country had achieved self-sufficiency and scientific capabilities in the field of military power and manufacturing state-of-the-art weaponry.
‘Besides progressive relations with various countries, Iran is engaged in military cooperation with some of them and is interested in sharing its advanced scientific and military technologies with other friendly and neighbouring countries as well,’ he added.
He said the neighbouring countries, in turn, need to understand the nature of Iran’s power because ‘regional stability and security will be established based on mutual strength and interactions’.
Iran has made major breakthroughs in its defence sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.
The Islamic Republic says its military might poses no threat to other countries, and that its defence doctrine is based on deterrence.
Sattari also said Iran was facing problems in establishing ties with some of its neighbours since it has been under the ‘most oppressive and harsh’ sanctions in the history of international relation.
‘We believe, however, that these problems can be solved through interactions and dialogue and there is no need for any help from foreign powers,’ he added. ‘Deeper neighbourly ties will bring greater economic benefits to the West Asia region.’
The Islamic Republic has always supported regional nations, has never violated their rights, and has recognised independence of all countries, Sayyari said.
The senior commander reiterated Iran’s friendly and brotherly policy towards its neighbours.
He said the Islamic Republic had never cast a covetous eye on any country and believed based on Islamic teachings that common interests and regional and collective security could be achieved without the presence of extra-regional states.
- Meanwhile, Iranians are commemorating Gaza Day across the country to show solidarity with Palestinians residing in the besieged coastal enclave, urging them to keep up their struggles against the Aviv regime’s incessant acts of aggression and criminal acts.
The ceremonies are mostly being held online, amid the concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day was designated after the full-case offensive on the Gaza Strip, which the Israeli regime recommenced on December 27, 2008 and pounded the densely populated Palestinian territory from the air, sea and land for 22 days.
More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s three-week-long operation, named by Israel as ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ including dozens of children and women. A total of 13 Israelis were also killed in attacks by Palestinian resistance factions.
Nearly 200 Palestinians, mostly security personnel, were killed on the first day of the Israeli offensive on the seaside enclave.
Iranians also mark the Gaza Day to underscore the fact that resistance, broadly speaking, is not only the ability to fight back against an oppressor that is militarily more powerful, but also the ability to creatively resist the colonisation of one’s land.
Even though Israel launched massive attacks against Gaza in 2009, 2012, 2014 and in May 2020, none of its ‘objectives’ of the genocidal onslaughts – putting an end to the rocket fire from Gaza and destroying the tunnels used by resistance fighters and obfuscating any form of unity between occupied al-Quds and Gaza – has been achieved.
Retaliatory rockets are still being launched and the Hamas resistance movement has proved to be strong enough to respond to any act of aggression by apartheid Israel against al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the holy al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Gaza, home to some two million Palestinians, has been under Israeli siege since June 2007. The tight blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
In the latest Israeli bombardment campaign against the Gaza Strip, at least 260 Palestinians, including over 60 children, were killed in a time span of 11 days that began on May 10 last year.
That came following Palestinian retaliation for violent Israeli raids on worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque and the regime’s plans to force a number of Palestinian families out of their homes at the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.
In response, Palestinian resistance movements, chief among them Hamas, launched Operation al-Quds Sword and fired more than 4,000 rockets and missiles into the occupied territories, killing 12 Israelis.
Apparently caught off guard by the unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza, Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, which Palestinian resistance movements accepted with Egyptian mediation.