Russia warns of retaliation as Ukraine crisis escalates

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Russia warns of retaliation as Ukraine crisis escalates

Russia threatened Wednesday to take “retaliatory measures” if the US and its allies ​reject Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security demands — ratcheting up already high tensions between Washington and Moscow over the potential invasion of Ukraine

The Kremlin has called on the US to provide written guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states would never be allowed to join NATO, and wants the Western alliance to roll back troop deployments in Eastern Europe.

Russia, which has stationed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, denies it is preparing to launch an invasion, saying instead it is countering military actions by the US and its European allies. 

“If the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,” ​Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said written replies will be sent this week, and Lavrov said he and other top Kremlin officials will advise Putin on the next steps after receiving them. CNN reported Wednesday morning that the formal response could be dispatched as soon as that day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will retaliate if the US and other countries do not approve of certain measures.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will retaliate if the US and other countries do not approve certain measures.
Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The US has made clear that the main Russian demands are “non-starters,” as top State Department official Wendy Sherman put it earlier this month.

As Russia waits for a reply, Lavrov warned Wednesday that the Kremlin would not wait forever for a response, saying: “We won’t allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions.”

A​t the same time, Russia dismissed President Biden’s Tuesday comments about slapping sanctions on Putin personally, saying such a move would be “politically destructive.” 

The Kremlin has called on the US to provide written guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states would never be allowed to join NATO.
The Kremlin has called on the US to provide written guarantees that Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc states would never be allowed to join NATO.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Russia slammed Biden's attempt to slap sanctions on the country saying the move would "politically destructive."
Russia slammed Biden’s attempt to slap sanctions on Putin himself, saying the move would be “politically destructive.”
REUTERS/Leah Millis

“There will be enormous consequences if he were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country — or a lot less than as well — for Russia, not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences,” Biden told reporters, referring to Putin.

A senior White House official on Tuesday added the administration was “prepared to implement sanctions with massive consequences that were not considered in 2014,” when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

NATO bolstered its defensive presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland following the invasion of Crimea. 

Russia has also demanded that the Western alliance roll back troop deployments in Eastern Europe.
Russia has also demanded that the Western alliance roll back troop deployments in Eastern Europe.
EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT

On Monday, the 30-member alliance announced that it would deploy additional ships and jet fighters to bolster “deterrence” in the region.

NATO said Denmark would send a frigate to the Baltic Sea and was ready to dispatch four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania. Spain would deploy ships to join NATO naval forces and was considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria, while France has said it is willing to send troops to Romania.

The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighters to Bulgaria beginning in April.

The Pentagon on Monday said it was putting 8,500 US troops on “heightened alert” for potential deployment to Eastern Europe but cautioned that no final decision had been made.

“We’ll continue to provide updates in the coming days about these decisions,” spokesman John Kirby said. “But specifically this will ensure that the United States and our commitment to the NRF [NATO Response Force] has — is consistent with their readiness for rapid deployment again, if activated.”

​Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that while the Russian military buildup on the border is a threat, “their number is now insufficient for a large-scale offensive.”

“They are still missing some key military elements and systems to mount a big, full-scale offensive,” he said.

But Kuleba suggested that Putin hopes to use the massive military presence to destabilize Ukraine by “spreading panic, raising pressure on Ukraine’s financial system and launching cyberattacks.”

“President Putin would be happy to see that plan succeed so that he doesn’t even need to turn to military force to put Ukraine in a vulnerable position,” he said.​​

Pallets of ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine are processed through the 436th Aerial Port Squadron during a foreign military sales mission
Pallets of ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine are processed through the 436th Aerial Port Squadron during a foreign military sales mission
Mauricio Campino/U.S. Air Force via AP
Russian Iskander missile launchers and support vehicles being used in planned comprehensive exercises on combat readiness with the troops of the Western Military District.
Russian Iskander missile launchers and support vehicles being used in planned comprehensive exercises on combat readiness with the troops of the Western Military District.
EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the nation in a televised speech on Tuesday to reassure citizens that Ukraine was “strong enough to keep everything under control and derail any attempts at destabilization.”​

Meanwhile, in Paris, officials from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are engaged in talks to revive a stalled peace agreement for the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. 

After the invasion of Crimea, Russia threw its support behind pro-separatist forces who were battling Ukrainian troops. That fighting has since killed more than 14,000 people. 

A Russian servicemen of the parachute battalions from Ivanovo and Kostroma attend fire training session at the Pesochnoe training ground in the Yaroslavl region on January 26, 2022.
Russian servicemen of the parachute battalions from Ivanovo and Kostroma attend fire training session at the Pesochnoe training ground in the Yaroslavl region on January 26, 2022.
EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT

With Post wires

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