US responds to Russia’s Ukraine demands

US responds to Russia’s Ukraine demands

The United States has delivered its written response to Russia’s demands that Ukraine be prevented from ever joining NATO, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday. 

The response, which was requested by Russia last week, reiterated the US commitment to upholding NATO’s “open door” principle, Blinken told reporters. The message was delivered to Moscow’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs by US Ambassador John Sullivan. 

The secretary declined to go into specifics of the response but said it was “fully coordinated with Ukraine and our European allies and partners with whom we’ve been consulting continuously for weeks.” 

“We’re not releasing the document publicly, because we think that diplomacy has the best chance to succeed if we provide space for confidential talks,” Blinken said. “We hope and expect that Russia will have the same view.” 

The secretary added that he expects to speak with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in the coming days after he and his colleagues get a chance to read the US response. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about Russia and Ukraine during a briefing.
Blinken reiterated the US commitment to upholding NATO’s “open door” principle in response to Russia’s demand that Ukraine be prevented from joining.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“There should be no doubt about our seriousness and purpose when it comes to diplomacy and we’re acting with equal focus and force to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and prepare the swift, united response to further Russian aggression,” Blinken continued. 

The “open door” policy is a reference to Article 10 of NATO’s founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, which states that membership in the alliance is open to any “European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”

According to Blinken, the response touches on four separate issues: the principles that the US is committed to and what the US government will defend; American and allied concerns about Russian actions toward Ukraine and Europe “that we believe undermine security”; the Russian request that Ukraine be prevented from joining NATO; and what the secretary described as “areas where — based on reciprocity — we believe we could advance our collective security.” 

Close-up of Blinken at a briefing.
Blinken added that the US was acting to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and prepare a response for Russian aggression.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Blinken emphasized that the document was not a “formal negotiating document” nor was it an “explicit proposal.” 

President Biden, who has promised “severe” economic sanctions if Russia decides to invade Ukraine, was “intimately involved” in the response, revealed Blinken, who added that the president reviewed it repeatedly over the last weeks. 

“Right now, the document is with them, and the ball is in their court,” Blinken concluded.

Concerns about a potential invasion have grown across the West in recent weeks as Moscow has massed at least 100,000 forces along the Ukraine border. Last week, Russian troops were seen transporting military equipment in Belarus — fueling fears of an invasion from the north.  

In recent days, the US has taken several steps to make its support of Ukraine clear to Russia, including sending $200 million in both non-lethal and lethal military equipment, allowing Baltic nations to send Ukraine American-made weapons, and putting up to 8,500 troops on “heightened alert” to assist the NATO Response Force in the event of an invasion.

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