White House says US will ‘never’ agree to some Russian proposals
The US has not yet given an official response to Russian proposals about security guarantees, but would “never” agree to some of them, the White House told reporters on Thursday.
However, a senior official in President Joe Biden's government used a background briefing to reveal others might be explored at a meeting sometime in January.
Washington was ready for diplomacy with Moscow as early as after the winter holidays, but no specific date or location for a meeting had yet been set, they added.
The same official said the Biden team had “not yet responded substantively” to Russia’s security proposals, but intended to do so during the January talks. While there were some areas the US “may be able to explore,” others were not in play, the official said.
Last week, Russia made public the drafts of two security treaties it wishes to see the US and NATO commit to. Moscow’s demands include legally binding guarantees that NATO will not expand into any more ex-Soviet states, or deploy missiles and other offensive weapons along Russia’s borders.
US intelligence has insinuated that Russia is planning an “invasion” of Ukraine in January, which Moscow has denied and described as “fake news.”
The unnamed White House official said on Thursday that “it’s not our sense that a decision has been made at this point,” which is what President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, had said previously.
Were there to be a Russian “invasion,” the US would impose “serious” sanctions, it has threatened. The White House said on Thursday that US “partners and allies” were preparing their own measures.
Moscow has maintained that the conflict in the two eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk is an internal matter for Ukraine. In talks with multiple Western leaders over the past week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Kiev of failing to live up to the commitments it made in the Minsk agreement, which established an armistice in the region in 2015.