Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Washington’s response to Moscow’s security demands was inadequate, suggesting that a diplomatic resolution on tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine was still a long way off.

Commenting on a phone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and reported by the Kremlin press service, the Russian leader said Washington’s written answers, delivered last week, ignored Moscow’s demands to roll back the expansion of the NATO Security Alliance, which Putin sees as a significant threat.

“Attention is drawn to the fact that the US and NATO responses did not take into account such fundamental Russian concerns as the prevention of NATO enlargement,” the Kremlin said in a statement, summarizing Putin’s comments to Macron. has.

In Paris, however, a senior French official said Putin told Macron “he is not looking for confrontation”.

Putin did not express any aggressive intentions and both sides refrained from threatening while focusing on the need for further dialogue in the so-called Normandy format which also includes Germany, to solve the problem. crisis in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists took control, the official said in Paris.

The two leaders spoke while Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian president, urged the US and other Western supporters to soften public warnings of an impending full-scale Russian invasion for fear that it would destabilizing his country’s economy.

“We do understand the risks,” Zelensky told a news conference, adding that “we do not see a greater escalation” than last spring when Russia’s military build-up began. “We do not need this panic,” he said.

In the United Kingdom, a Downing Street spokesman said on Friday night that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “determined to step up diplomatic efforts and step up deterrence to prevent bloodshed in Europe. He will reiterate that Russia must stand back and engage diplomatically when he speaks to President Putin this week. “

Zelensky urged Western supporters to help Kyiv fill financial gaps of up to $ 5 billion, as the risk of war made it difficult to gain access to markets. “We can not handle it alone. We have to take out money [of our reserves] and stabilize our currency. It is a very expensive price to pay, ”said Zelensky.

The US and NATO responses Russia’s demands, which have been criticized by Putin, were personally submitted to the Russian Foreign Ministry by the US ambassador to Moscow last week.

The US and NATO have told Moscow they are committed to keeping the transatlantic alliance open to new members, which rejects the central Russian demand. Russian officials said the answers left “little cause for optimism”, but suggested that a discussion would continue “on secondary issues”.

Russia has more than 100,000 of its troops deployed around the border with Ukraine, raising fears that tensions could spill over into full-blown war in Europe.

Russia presented its demands for security guarantees to the US and NATO in December last year, ahead of a series of diplomatic meetings between the two sides this month that revealed few areas of compromise.

The draft proposals aimed at re-signing the security map of Europe and demanding guarantees from the west that Ukraine should never become a member of NATO and that the security alliance deployment deployment in states that joined after 1997 should roll back.

These demands, Putin told Macron, were not taken into account.

Another key question, which was also ignored, the Kremlin said, was “how the United States and its allies intend to follow the principle of the indivisibility of security, which is enshrined in the basic OSCE and NATO-Russia documents. , which stipulates that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other countries. ”

The two leaders agreed to keep talking. “It has been agreed to continue the Russian-French dialogue on the whole range of European security issues,” the Kremlin said.

Macron, who recently launched a plan for a “new security and stability order” in Europe, has been embroiled in a “strategic dialogue” with Putin since 2019, despite criticism from some of France’s allies and European partners that it was too accommodating towards the Russian leader.

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