Russia held the door open on Monday to further talks on resolving its standoff with the West and said some of its military drills were ending.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will endorse Russia’s response to the U.S. and NATO messages on security guarantees at an appropriate moment.
“First of all, President Putin has always been demanding negotiations and diplomacy,” Peskov pointed out, adding “And actually, he initiated the issue of guarantees of security for the Russian Federation. Ukraine is just a part of the problem, it’s a part of the bigger problem of security guarantees for Russia and of course, President Putin is willing to negotiate.”
In December 2021, Russia sent a draft agreement to NATO and a draft treaty to the U.S. both on security guarantees in Europe for the Western countries to consider. The U.S. and NATO had formulated a written response to Russia’s proposals on January 26.
Earlier on Monday, Putin held a televised meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussing U.S. and NATO’s responses to Russia’s proposals. “There is always a chance” to reach an agreement with the West over Ukraine, Lavrov said, suggesting that Moscow continues to move along the diplomatic path in its efforts to extract security guarantees from the West.
Lavrov told Putin the United States had put forward concrete proposals on reducing military risks but said responses from the European Union and NATO military alliance had not been satisfactory.
“I would suggest continuing,” Lavrov said in televised remarks. “Fine,” Putin replied.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a meeting on Monday also told Putin that some of the drills were “ending” and more would end “in the near future”.
Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said on Monday that the parliament would consider two resolutions on the recognition of eastern Ukraine’s Lugansk and Donetsk regions as independent. The appeal will be considered and voted on on Tuesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the nation on Monday. The leader, who has been playing down suggestions that a Russian attack is imminent, told Ukrainians to stay calm.
“We want peace, and we want to settle all the issues only through negotiations,” he said.
He called on Ukrainians to fly the country’s flags from buildings and sing the national anthem in unison on February 16, a date that some in the Western media have cited as a possible start of a Russian invasion.
“They tell us February 16 will be the day of the attack. We will make it a day of unity,” Zelensky said in a video address. via walta