Kremlin sees some room for dialogue after US security response

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – The Kremlin said on Thursday (Jan 27) there was room to continue dialogue with the United States, but that it looked clear Russia’s main security demands had not been taken into account by Washington.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not rush to draw conclusions after the United States formally responded on Wednesday to its proposals for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.

Describing tensions on the continent as reminiscent of the Cold War, Mr Peskov said it would take time for Moscow to review the US response.

He said it was in both Moscow and Washington’s interests to continue dialogue, though he said that remarks out of the United States and NATO about Russia’s main demands being unacceptable did not leave a lot of room for optimism.

“Based on what our colleagues said yesterday it’s absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents… we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account,” Mr Peskov said.

“But we won’t rush with our assessments,” he said.

In separate comments, Russia’s top diplomat said that there was hope of starting serious dialogue, but only on secondary questions and not on the fundamental ones, Russian news agencies reported.

President Vladimir Putin will decide on Russia’s next steps with regards to the US and NATO written responses that were handed over on Wednesday, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying.

The Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday that Russia is likely to remain on a diplomatic track with Ukraine and the West for at least two weeks following talks in Paris to de-escalate the situation.

“Nothing has changed, this is the bad news,” Mr Kuleba said of the talks in Paris, where Moscow held security talks with diplomats from Ukraine, France and Germany on Wednesday.

“The good news is that advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track,” he said at a news briefing in Copenhagen, following a meeting with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod.

The so-called “Normandy” talks in Paris were seen as a step toward defusing broader tensions in a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine that risks becoming a full-scale war.

“Unfortunately, the biggest demand that Russia has is that Ukraine engages directly in talks with Russian proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk instead of negotiating with Russia. This will not happen, this is a matter of principle,” Mr Kuleba said.

Donetsk and Luhansk are self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine.