Following Biden-Putin talks, Russia calls on US to heed demands

Russia will move to “eliminate unacceptable threats” if the United States and NATO do not respond to the Kremlin’s security demands, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned, following top-level talks between the rival powers.

Lavrov told Russia’s state-run Ria Novosti news agency on Friday that the foreign ministry would not allow the proposals to be rolled up in “endless discussions” as tensions simmer between Moscow and Western powers over Ukraine, where fears of a possible Russian invasion have risen in recent months, increased by Moscow’s deployment of tens of thousands of troops along the two countries shared border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden spoke by telephone for nearly an hour on Thursday, their second conversation this month, ahead of lower-level, face-to-face negotiations in Geneva in January between senior officials.

Among Russia’s wish-list of requests, many of which are seen as non-starters in the West, is a demand that the US-headed NATO transatlantic security alliance promises to give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

The Kremlin says NATO’s expansion eastward and Kyiv’s growing ties with the body have undermined security in the region.Moscow claims such developments threaten Russia, contravene assurances given to it as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and compares with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when the world came to the brink of nuclear war.

Lavrov said Moscow would take “all necessary measures to ensure a strategic balance” in the event its concerns were ignored.

Biden-Putin talks

During Thursday’s discussions, which were requested by Russia, Biden and Putin exchanged warnings over Ukraine but shared hope that the January talks may ease tensions.

Biden said he needed to see Russia decrease its military build-up near Ukraine, while Putin warned the West against significant sanctions, saying such a move could break ties.

Russia denies it is planning to attack Ukraine and says it has the right to move troops on its soil.

“President Biden reiterated that substantive progress in these dialogues can occur only in an environment of de-escalation rather than escalation,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said the call had created a “good backdrop” for future talks.

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