Russian diplomat refuses to rule out military deployment to Latin America

A senior Russian diplomat on Thursday refused to rule out a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if the United States and its allies did not halt military activities on Russia’s doorstep.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could not “confirm or rule out” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America.

“It all depends on the work of our American counterparts,” the minister said in an interview with Russian television network RTVI, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow could take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the United States and its allies failed to do so. meet its demands.

There are ongoing talks between the United States and Russia regarding a troop increase near Ukraine.

Western countries warned Russia of dire consequences if it invaded the neighboring country while Russia demanded that NATO not accept former Soviet states as new members.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed as “loud” Ryabkov’s comments on Thursday about a possible Russian deployment to Latin America.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Sullivan noted that no further talks were scheduled, but that “we are ready to continue diplomacy to enhance security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.”

Ryabkov said the refusal of the United States and its allies to consider the main Russian demand for guarantees against NATO expansion in Ukraine and other former Soviet states made it difficult to discuss confidence-building steps that Washington says it is willing to negotiate.

He said, “The United States wants to have a dialogue on some elements of the security situation … to ease tensions and then continue the process of geopolitical and military development of the new territories, and to get closer to Moscow.” “We have nowhere to turn back.”

Ryabkov described the deployments and US and NATO military exercises near Russian territory as highly destabilizing.

He said that US strategic bombers with nuclear capabilities flew only 15 kilometers from the Russian border.

“We are constantly faced with provocative military pressures aimed at testing our strength,” he said, adding that he wondered how the Americans would react “if our bombers were flying within 15 kilometers of some American base in the east or west coast.”

This high-stakes diplomacy took place as an estimated 100,000 Russian soldiers were massed with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine’s eastern border. On Thursday, Sullivan reiterated concerns that Moscow might be paving the way for an invasion of Ukraine by making allegations that Kiev is preparing to act against Russia.

He said that the United States will announce some of the reasons for this assessment in the coming days.

In 2014, Russia seized Crimea after ousting the Moscow-friendly Ukrainian leader, and threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

More than 14,000 people have been killed in nearly eight years of fighting between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces.

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