(Moscow) Russia on Wednesday described the idea of sanctions against its president Vladimir Putin, which was raised by the United States during the invasion of Ukraine, as “destructive”, although Kiev is on the verge of a major offensive, considering that the number of Russian troops is still insufficient.
Posted at 6:29
Updated at 8:14 p.m.
The comments came during a meeting in Paris on Wednesday between diplomatic advisers to the Russian, Ukrainian and French presidents and the German president.
The meeting, in a diplomatic format known as “Normandy” since 2015, seeks to defuse the crisis following a series of talks between Russians and Americans last week.
Tensions around Ukraine have been steadily rising in recent months, with Moscow accused of moving tens of thousands of troops across the border for an offensive. Russia is demanding guarantees for its security, including the rejection of Kiev’s NATO membership.
A written response from NATO and the United States to Russia’s requests will be sent to Moscow by the end of the week, several coalition diplomatic sources told the AFP on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said he could “consider” allowing Vladimir Putin personally, and promised that if Moscow attacked Ukraine, the decision to “change the world” would have “enormous consequences.”
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the threats, saying on Wednesday that such sanctions would not be “politically painful” for the Russian leader, but would “destroy” relations between Moscow and the West.
Mr. The nature of these possible sanctions against Putin, Mr. Unless Biden mentions it, U.S. sanctions often include freezing assets and barring transactions with the United States.
Mr. Peskov underlined that Russian law in principle prohibits senior officials of the country from possessing assets abroad, and therefore believes that such actions are “not painful” for the authorities.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told him that “if the West continues its wartime course, Moscow will take the necessary response.” He once again denounced the Western “hysteria” of Russian intervention in Ukraine.
Russia has stepped up military maneuvers in recent weeks, including about 6,000 men, fighter jets and bombers on the Moscow-linked peninsula in 2014, and exercises that began Tuesday in southern and Crimea, including the Ukrainian border.
Moscow has previously announced naval maneuvers in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Mediterranean, and joint exercises with Belarus on EU borders.
As part of the exercise, a section of the Russian Northern Fleet entered the Barents Sea on Wednesday, and the Black Sea Fleet stationed about 20 ships.
Russia has amassed 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. If Ukraine had been panicked by an immediate invasion for weeks, the figure on Wednesday would have been “not enough” to launch a major offensive against the country.
This figure is “significant, it is a threat to Ukraine”, but “as we speak, this figure is not enough for a large-scale offensive against Ukraine across the Ukrainian border,” said Dmitry Kouleba, head of Ukrainian diplomacy.
The United States, for its part, kept a vigil of about 8,500 troops on Monday, which could strengthen NATO’s rapid reaction force of 40,000 troops. However, no decision has been made on hiring them.
NATO has announced that it is preparing troops and sending ships and warplanes to strengthen its defenses in Eastern Europe, while Russia views its allied troops around it as an existential threat.
On Wednesday, senior Russian parliamentarian Andrei Tursak called for the supply of weapons to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev has been fighting since 2014 in a war that has killed more than 13,000 people. Dead