Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday warned that Moscow is running out of patience with the West as Russia continues to levy demands that the US and NATO have dismissed as non-starters.
“We have run out of patience,” Lavrov said at a news conference, per the Associated Press. “The West has been driven by hubris and has exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.”
Lavrov insisted that the US and its allies respond to Russia’s demands in writing next week. “They must understand that the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward,” Lavrov said, alluding to Russia’s demand that NATO never accept Ukraine and Georgia as members. Both the US and NATO have repeatedly made clear that the alliance’s open-door policy is non-negotiable, but Russia has not backed down.
Russia has gathered tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border in recent weeks. The Kremlin claims it has no plans to invade, but European leaders have expressed serious concerns that a new war is on the horizon. Russia invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and has since supported separatists in a war against Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Russia effectively has a “gun pointed at Ukraine’s head.” But Russian President Vladimir Putin has painted NATO as the antagonist, ignoring the fact that his aggressive actions in the region over the past decade or so have fostered the present tensions.
Diplomatic talks in Europe between Russia and Western powers this week did not lead to any major breakthroughs, and there are growing concerns that Moscow will use the largely fruitless discussions as a pretext for war. “We’re facing a crisis in European security. The drumbeat of war is sounding loud, and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill,” Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said at a press briefing Thursday.
The US has warned Russia that it will face massive economic consequences if it invades Ukraine, including potential sanctions aimed directly at Putin. The Kremlin on Thursday warned that slapping sanctions on Putin would lead to a complete rupture in US-Russia relations.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, an influential Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Thursday told Insider that sanctioning Putin would be a necessary step in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia should be treated as a pariah state if it chooses to march an army into a neighboring nation,” Murphy said. “I think Putin’s getting nervous. I think he’s seeing the world aligning against him … And he’s starting to make threats with the intent of trying to scare the rest of the world into changing behavior.”
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