Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister again criticized the U.S. and NATO backlash to his proposal and while he assured that Moscow will not start a war, he stressed that he will not allow the West to ignore Moscow’s security interests 

“If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war. We don’t want wars. But we also won’t allow our interests to be rudely trampled, to be ignored,” Lavrov said Friday in an interview with Russian radio, Reuters reported

Tensions have been running high in recent weeks over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, where Russia has deployed about 100,000 troops near the border for weeks and the West has responded by sending weaponry and 8,500 men for possible deployment in Europe in case NATO’s defense protocol is activated. 

The Kremlin denied that an invasion would happen, but continues to demand that NATO ensure that Ukraine can never join and that the alliance will reverse troop and military equipment deployments to Eastern Europe.

The U.S. and NATO formally rejected those demands this week, although Washington left open the possibility of dialogue on certain areas, something acknowledged by Lavrov, who said there was at least “something” in the written answers sent by the West on Wednesday on which discussions are possible. 

He also said that President Putin was studying the US counter-proposals and will decide how to respond. 

The Russian minister reportedly expects to meet again with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the coming days, after the last diplomatic meeting where no concrete solution was reached.

On Wednesday Jan. 26, Blinken declared that whatever response from Russia, the U.S. and its allies were prepared. “Should Russia choose further aggression, we step forward with more support for Ukraine’s security and economy,” he said.

Washington warned Moscow of devastating sanctions if it invades Ukraine, including sanctions against senior Russian officials and key economic groups. In this regard Lavrov warned that if such sanctions happen it would mean a total severing of ties with the U.S. and its allies, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told parliament Friday that there are some 130,000 Russian troops near Ukraine’s borders, but that so far they have not seen “any events or actions of military character that significantly differ from what was going on last spring,” when Russia finally withdrew its forces after massive military exercises.

But while diplomatic actions continue, defense preparations against a possible invasion of Ukraine continue to intensify. According to AP, sources who remained anonymous indicated that Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday that they believe Russia could initiate the invasion when the ground freezes, carrying out the attack from the north of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

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