After ever more vehement speeches in recent days, the satisfaction granted by Russian President Vladimir Poutin, admittedly brief and measured, constitutes a real change of tone. “At the moment we are seeing a positive reaction. Our American partners tell us that they are ready to start this discussion, these negotiations, at the start of the year in Geneva ”Mr. Putin said at his annual press conference on Thursday, December 23.
The Russian president was referring to the announcement, the day before, of upcoming talks between Washington and Moscow on the basis of the proposals forwarded by the Russian side a week ago, which aim to ban any further NATO enlargement and reform the post-Cold War European order. The implicit threat posed by Moscow in support of its demands is a new military intervention in Ukraine, on the border of which Russian troops are massed. Or a “Military-technical response”, as Vladimir Putin put it on Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave some details on the framework of these talks on Wednesday. These should start ” in January “, under the aegis of Yuri Ushakov, adviser to the Russian president, and Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to the United States. These negotiations “Must not be eternal”, warned Lavrov, without specifying whether he was speaking in weeks or months. He did not exclude « contacts » parallels with Europeans, either directly or within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
“It is not us who threaten someone”, says Putin
Thursday, the American side confirmed that a first telephone exchange had taken place between MM. Sullivan and Ushakov. Note, on the Russian side, that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Riabkov, is momentarily left aside. It was he who presented the Russian demands, in the form of draft agreements with the United States and with NATO, warning that it was not a question of “No menu where you can choose what you like”, giving the maneuver the air of an ultimatum.
Vladimir Putin repeated his minister’s warning: “We want guarantees now, not ten years from now. “ In response to a question about the possibility of a war, and in a hurry to say whether he could himself give guarantees as to the security of Ukraine, he contented himself with assuring:
“Our actions do not depend on the negotiations themselves but on the assurances that Russia will receive for its security. (…) It is not us who threaten someone. How would the United States react if we put missiles on the Canadian border? “
In support of his demonstration, Mr. Putin again referred to the supposed plan of the United States to deploy hypersonic missiles in Ukraine to “Cover” actions of “Ukrainian radicals” against Russian forces. Such missiles are not deployed either in Ukraine, or even in the Baltic countries, members of NATO.
Throughout the week, the sound of boots continued to be heard in Moscow, not only in the media but also among officials. On Tuesday, the Minister of Defense, Sergei Choïgou, assured that “Mercenaries” Americans were preparing « provocations » in the Donbass, including with the help of chemical weapons, and installed “Firing positions” in apartment buildings. Moscow, for its part, still denies military intervention in this region.
During his press conference, Mr. Putin also made several lengthy points to explain the origin of the current crisis, which he said dates back to the broken promises of the 1990s – “They lie all the time”, Mr Putin said of Westerners – and ” Rebellion “ in Ukraine in 2014. “We could not refuse our protection to the inhabitants of Crimea and Donbass. ” According to him, the fundamental problem of Westerners remains that “Russia is still too big for them, (…) they always wanted to make it burst ”.