A senior Russian envoy made an overt threat of war if U.S. and Western European leaders continue to resist Moscow’s demands for a practical contraction of NATO.
“Russia is a peace-loving country, but we do not need peace at any cost,” Ambassador Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.
That threat marked a break in character from much of Moscow’s messaging, as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has insisted that the military forces deployed near Ukraine’s borders do not represent a threat to Ukraine. Lukashevich’s statement was part of a flurry of Russian statements expressing dissatisfaction with the United States following a pair of meetings in which U.S. and NATO officials proposed to start risk reduction talks but rejected Russia’s demand that the alliance return to its 1997 borders.
“We are not going to entertain spheres of influence,” Ambassador Michael Carpenter told reporters following the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe meeting in which Lukashevich aired that threat. “We’re not going to entertain restrictions on the right of nations to choose their own alliances. We’re not going to entertain privileging the security requirements of one state over another.”
U.S. and European officials broadcast that position for weeks prior to the meetings this week in Geneva and Brussels. Russia’s demand struck officials from NATO member states as so extreme that some surmised Putin designed the offer to be rejected in order to create a “pretext for war.” Russian officials heard the refusal in person on Wednesday during a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, and that experience gave way to more explicit threats. (Read more from “Russian Diplomat Makes Threat of War Explicit After ‘Dead-End’ Talks” HERE)
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