Ukraine crisis: US responds to Russian demands, upholds NATO's 'open-door' policy
The written reply was delivered in-person by US ambassador in Moscow. Russia has been demanding assuarances that Ukraine would never be included in NATO. Western countries are reluctant to give such a word
The United States has sent a written response to Russia's demands in eastern Europe. While it offered a "principled and pragmatic evaluation" of the Kremlin's concerns, the US has upheld North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) 'open-door' policy. This policy refers to NATO's openness to new member countries. Ukraine is keen to be part of NATO, something Russia is fiercely against.
The written response to Russia's demands was delivered in person by US ambassador in Moscow.
Russia has demanded NATO pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe and bar its neighbour Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from ever joining. Washington and its NATO allies reject that position but say they are ready to discuss other topics such as arms control and confidence-building measures.
"Putting things in writing is ... a good way to make sure we're as precise as possible, and the Russians understand our positions, our ideas, as clearly as possible. Right now, the document is with them and the ball is in their court," said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Whether President Vladimir Putin is prepared to accept Washington and its allies' agenda will determine the next phase of the crisis, in which Moscow has massed around 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine while denying it plans to invade.
NATO says it is putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, while the US, Britain and others are providing weapons to help Ukraine defend against Russia's much larger army.
Asked how much time Russia would need to study NATO's response, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told Interfax news agency: "We will read it. Study it. The partners studied our project for almost a month and a half."
In Paris, diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany held more than eight hours of talks on ending a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, part of the wider crisis between Moscow and Kyiv that risks becoming a full-scale war.
The so-called "Normandy" talks were a good signal from Russia and a step toward defusing broader tensions, though major differences remained with further talks planned in Berlin in two weeks, a French official said.
Western-Russian differences were on full display on Tuesday with U.S. President Joe Biden saying he would consider imposing sanctions personally on Putin if he invades Ukraine, part of an attempt by Washington to convince Moscow that any new action against Ukraine would bring massive costs.
(With inputs from agencies)