Moscow Says It’s Offering US, NATO Alternative to New Cuban Missile Crisis

Sputnik,Tensions between Russia and the US-led military bloc have escalated dramatically in recent weeks amid Western claims that Moscow may be preparing to invade Ukraine.

Russian officials have dismissed the claims, warning that Kiev that may be getting ready to try to resolve the frozen civil conflict in eastern Ukraine by force.

Russia is offering the United States and NATO an alternative to a new Cuban Missile Crisis-style scenario, and is prepared to continue constructive dialogue with Washington on Ukraine, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said.

“We are offering an alternative [to a repeat of a Cuban Missile Crisis-style event] – the non-deployment of these kinds of weapons near our borders, the withdrawal of forces and assets which destabilise the situation, a rejection of provocative measures, including various drills. But we need guarantees, and the guarantees must be legal,” Ryabkov told Sputnik during a press briefing in Moscow on Friday.

“It’s necessary to avoid a new missile crisis in Europe before it’s too late, before the appearance of medium- and short-range missiles in these territories. This is unacceptable and is a direct route to escalating the confrontation,” the diplomat warned.

Ryabkov said he couldn’t understand the actions of the US and its European allies in this area, stressing that their behaviour has done nothing to strengthen their own security. “It’s ridiculous to suggest that their missiles are aimed at countering a limited rocket threat from the opposite direction,” he said.

The diplomat stressed that Russia will continue to use all available resources to push forward with dialogue with NATO on security issues, and to “make maximum use of any opportunities to build up common sense in this area.”

Ryabkov said this dialogue will include a proposal on the reciprocal verifiable moratorium on the development of new ground-to-ground missile systems banned under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the US unilaterally walked out on in 2019.

Russia ‘Alarmed’ by NATO’s Eastward Expansion

He also commented indirectly on recent statements by US and NATO officials about Ukraine’s prospects of joining NATO, saying such a development would be unacceptable for Russia.

“I take all the signals on this subject as part of a larger picture which is very alarming for us. Once again: there should not be any further eastward expansion of NATO. Even in the absence of such expansion, there should be no absorption of nearby territory in the military and military-technical sense, as is currently taking place, to the detriment of Russia’s security interests,” Ryabkov said.

The diplomat was also asked about the latest Western threats of new sanctions against Russia, stressing that Moscow’s position and actions are “impeccable both from the perspective of international law and the political point of view” and that sanctions threats were unacceptable. He suggested that NATO resorts to threats of sanctions and military pressure against anyone who disagrees with their claims of “exceptional righteousness.”

“Such a conversation with Russia is unacceptable,” Ryabkov said, adding that threats aren’t effective, especially when they include trying to tell Russia what to do on its own territory.

Despite the recent rhetoric, Ryabkov expressed hope that the majority of the Washington establishment is not in favour of war with Russia, with the possible exception of Republican Senator Roger Wicker, who recently urged the Biden administration not to “rule out first use nuclear action” against Russia in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I don’t think that there are people [in Washington] who could be placed into the ‘party of war’ category, with the possible exception of the Republican senator who recently called on the Biden administration not to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons against Russia.

But I would advise the members of this party of war to follow the example of their famous predecessor, who jumped out the window shouting ‘the Russians are coming!’,” Ryabkov said, referring to the late former US Defence Secretary James Forrestal, who committed suicide in a psychiatric hospital in 1949 while allegedly repeating the phrase “The Russians are coming.”