Russia responds to USA – Pentagon reports troop deployment

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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks at a news conference. © Alex Brandon/AP/dpa

Russia has responded to Washington’s de-escalation proposals. There is no information about the content. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reporting more Russian troops arriving at the Ukrainian border.

WASHINGTON – The US government has received a written response from Russia to Washington’s proposals to de-escalate the Ukraine conflict. The US State Department confirmed receipt of the letter on Monday evening upon request.

The ministry did not provide any information about the content. “It would be unproductive to negotiate in public, so we’ll let Russia decide whether to discuss its response,” a spokeswoman said. We are fully committed to dialogue and will continue to consult with allies, including Ukraine.

Lavrov and Blinken talk on the phone on Tuesday

Last week, the US government sent Russia written answers to Moscow’s concerns about security in Europe. In it, the US government has again rejected Secretary of State Antony Blinken according to the Russian demand for binding commitments to end NATO expansion. The paper itself was not published. But it also contains “positive things” that should be pursued. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US colleague Blinken want to talk on the phone this Tuesday about the current crisis situation.

At the end of last year, Russia handed the United States and NATO a draft agreement in which the Kremlin demands security guarantees in Europe. Among other things, an end to the eastward expansion of NATO, which Russia sees as a threat, is being demanded. In particular, the Kremlin wants to prevent Ukraine from being included in the western defense alliance. The US and NATO, in turn, suspect Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning an invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects this.

Pentagon: More Russian troop deployment

Meanwhile, according to the US government, Russia is continuing to strengthen its troops on the border with Ukraine. “Over the weekend, more Russian ground forces deployed in Belarus and on the border with Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

In addition, one observes increasing naval activities in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. It was “nothing hostile,” Kirby said. “But they’ve got more ships, they’re practicing at sea, they’re definitely increasing the skills that they have at sea when they need them.”

Referring to US President Joe Biden’s announcement that additional US troops would soon be deployed to the Eastern European NATO countries because of the Ukraine crisis, Kirby said: “One option available to us is the deployment of US forces, who are already in Europe. You don’t necessarily have to have troops flown in from the USA or from other places.” Tens of thousands of US soldiers are regularly stationed in Europe, including around 35,000 in Germany, even outside of times of crisis.

Soldiers in the US on increased readiness

On Biden’s orders, 8,500 soldiers in the United States were put on increased readiness on Monday to enable rapid transfer if necessary. Kirby emphasized that these are additional troops. The Pentagon spokesman did not say when or how many US soldiers should be transferred to where. However, he reiterated that no US soldiers would be sent to Ukraine.

With more than 100,000 troops deployed near Ukraine, there are fears in the West that the Kremlin is planning an invasion of the former Soviet republic. However, it is also considered possible that fears are only being stirred up in order to persuade the NATO states to make concessions when demands for new security guarantees are made. Moscow denies plans for an alleged invasion. dpa

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