The United States said it had offered a “diplomatic way forward” in the standoff with Russia over Ukraine. On Thursday, the Kremlin said it saw little reason for optimism.
With the ball now back in Moscow’s court, the West received few immediate signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin would seek to de-escalate tensions and allay fears of a new deadly conflict.
Russia cautioned that it was pessimistic, but indicated it would take its time to study the written responses from the US and NATO before deciding how to move forward.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was “little reason for optimism” after Western allies made it clear they would not accede to Russia’s key requests, but urged not to jump to conclusions.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters there was hope for “the beginning of a serious conversation,” but clearly not on the fundamental issues raised by Russia, whose demands amounted to an effort to reshape the security landscape of Post-Cold War Europe.
In a series of bold security demands last month, the Kremlin urged NATO to deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and reverse their military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. They were issued as Moscow assembled forces near its neighbor’s borders and warned of “retaliatory measures” in case there was “no constructive response” from the US and its allies. Russia has denied planning any attack.
After Washington delivered its written response on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was “no change” in the Biden administration’s position that NATO maintains its open-door policy for countries to join the NATO. transatlantic alliance. He did not provide details on the response, which he said will not be released publicly.
NATO has also transmitted its proposals in writing to Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday night.
Stoltenberg called on Russia to “immediately de-escalate the situation” but said the alliance was prepared to listen to Russia’s concerns and engage in “a real conversation” about European security.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took a softer line when he also weighed in Thursday, saying Russia and the United States must engage in diplomacy to avoid war.
Medvedev, a trusted Putin ally who served as president from 2008 to 2012, told the state-run Ria news agency that it was “obvious here that the most important and only route is to reach an agreement on security guarantees.”
Some analysts took Russia’s reserved reaction as a positive sign.
“The fact that the Kremlin does not immediately respond with bellicose statements, but instead says that it will study the response is already good news,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow and chair of the Program on Political Institutions and Russian National Policy at the Carnegie Center. from Moscow.
Now it will be up to Putin alone to decide how to respond, Kolesnikov told Russia’s TV Rain channel.
“It all depends on the mood, the rationality or the irrationality of President Vladimir Putin, whether he wants to start a war or not, whether he wants to keep the stakes high or agree to a meaningful dialogue,” he added.