Russia has no plans attack Ukraine, but could not say it would never deploy any weapons in its large southern neighbor, the Kremlin has told CNN, adding that Moscow is willing to talk, but only if its concerns are addressed.
Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's long-time spokesman, added that Russia is deeply concerned by a recent spiraling-up of tensions in Europe, in an interview scheduled for broadcast on Sunday.
“We have too much tension on the border [with Ukraine]. We have too much tension in this part of Europe. It drags [in] more problems automatically. It is extremely dangerous for our continent,” he told the host of the ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’ show.
According to Peskov, the only way forward for the US and NATO is to finally address Russia’s concerns in earnest, instead of brushing them off. “This is the reason we are insisting on receiving a direct response,” he explained, adding that Moscow expected an “extremely specific” response to its “extremely specific proposals.”
Moscow is not issuing any ultimatums, he maintained, adding that the Kremlin was not, as of now, “speaking about military action.” Nonetheless, he said, Russia was not “going to say that we will not deploy any offensive weapons on Ukraine’s territory.”
Later, on Sunday, Peskov elaborated on what he had said about potential weapons deployment to Ukraine. Before any judgment was passed, he told Russian media, his statement needed to be understood in context, adding that a quote attributed to him by America's Bloomberg was “their words.” RT was unable to access the full interview at the time of publication.
Since late 2021, Ukraine and the US have insisted that Russia has been amassing military personnel near the Ukrainian border, and have claimed that this is evidence it is preparing for an invasion. Moscow has repeatedly denied such plans.
In December, Russia issued a set of proposals for improving collective security, which included guarantees that NATO would not expand further east and a particular agreement that no post-Soviet state, including Ukraine, should be permitted to join it.
These demands were rejected by the US and its allies during a week of high-level talks between officials from Russia, the US, NATO, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen even threatened that the bloc could absorb Finland and Sweden “overnight,” should they be “provoked” into considering such a possibility by Moscow.
Following the talks, which Peskov described as “unsuccessful,” the US continued to allege that Russia was preparing false flag operations in Ukraine to spark a full-blown conflict. The spokesman denied that anything of the sort was taking place. “You can see that this is not happening,” he said. He brushed off all such accusations, dismissing US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s allegations as “fake news.”
“He [Sullivan] promised to publish the proof of these accusations within 24 hours [yesterday] … we are still waiting for that proof,” Peskov said, adding that “until it is proven somehow … we will continue to presume that it’s fake news.”
Russia is still seeking de-escalation, and is concerned by the fact that Moscow and Washington are on what Peskov called “totally different tracks” – a situation he described as “disturbing.”