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U.S. details new offers and threats to Russia over Ukraine conflict

U.S. details new offers and threats to Russia over Ukraine conflict
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference in December. The Biden administration Saturday issued new warnings to Russia if the country invades Ukraine, but also detailed offers the White House is prepared to discuss. File Photo by Evgeny Odinokov/EPA-EFE/SPUTNIK

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Biden administration Saturday issued new warnings to Russia if the country invades Ukraine, but also detailed offers the White House is prepared to discuss.

The warnings were made by a senior administration official during a teleconference Saturday ahead of strategic stability dialogues between American and Russian officials in Switzerland on Monday.

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The official said that the United States would be open to preventing the future deployment of offensive missiles systems in Ukraine -- a topic President Joe Biden has already told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he has no intention of doing.

"Russia has said it feels threatened by the prospect of offensive missile systems being placed in Ukraine," the official said. "This is one area where we may be able to reach an understanding if Russia is willing to make a reciprocal commitment."

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The United States is also open to the possibility of "reciprocal restrictions on the size and scope" of military exercises along Russia's border with NATO allies, the official said. These discussions could include "both strategic bombers close to each other's territory and ground-based exercises."

"This, by the way, is something we are already doing - or at least that we already should be doing when Russia does what it has committed to under an agreement called the Vienna Document," the official said.

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However, the official clearly expressed that the United States would not be open to discussing topics such as troop numbers in NATO countries or reducing those numbers, which Russia has demanded.

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"I want to be clear that this is not on the table," the official said.

The official also warned that Russia would face "severe costs" such as financial and economic sanctions, as well as increased security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself if Russia were to invade. Sanctions could include significantly limiting U.S. exports to Russia and other controls that "target key industries."

"We won't know until we get into these conversations, starting tomorrow night, whether Russia is prepared to negotiate seriously and in good faith," the official said. "Or whether they will simply use this as a pretext to claim that diplomacy couldn't address their interests."

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The official also noted that the main threats to European security in the past two decades have come from Russia.

"Russia has twice invaded and occupied its neighbors. It's interfered in a myriad of elections, including our own. It's used chemical weapons to conduct assassinations and violated foundational arms control treaties, like the INF," the official said.

"So, any serious conversation with Russia about European security is going to have to address those issues, which, of course, are not referenced in Russia's draft documents."

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