Russia will be 'forced to respond' if no US security guarantees

AFP , Thursday 17 Feb 2022

Russia announced Thursday it could respond militarily if Washington does not meet its security demands and said it wanted all US troops out of Eastern and Central Europe.

A joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus
The Grad multiple rocket launcher firing at mock enemy targets during a joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus as part of an inspection of the Union State s Response Force, at the Obuz-Lesnovsky firing range near the city of Baranovichi in Belarus. AFP

"In the absence of will on the American side to negotiate firm and legally binding guarantees on our security from the United States and its allies, Russia will be forced to respond, including with military-technical measures," the foreign ministry said.

The statement is the latest in a back-and-forth between Russia and the West that started in December when Moscow put forward sweeping security demands to Washington and NATO.

The United States handed back a response rejecting key Russian demands, including a ban on Ukraine joining NATO and clauses limiting Western influence in Eastern Europe and former Soviet states.

In its formal follow up Thursday Russia also said it insists "on the withdrawal of all US armed forces in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Baltics".

Thursday's statement comes as the United States and its allies say Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and Moscow-annexed Crimea, raising concerns of a possible attack.

In the document, Russia also said that it has no plans to invade Ukraine, contradicting US claims that an attack could come at any moment.

"There is no 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine, which the United States and its allies have been announcing officially since last fall, and it is not planned," the foreign ministry said in a public statement.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday said the threat of a Russian invasion was "very high," even though Moscow in recent days has announced several troop drawdowns from Ukaine and Crimea.

Moscow this week announced that it was moving back some troops from Ukraine's border but Western leaders have said there is no evidence of a drawdown.

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