MOSCOW — A senior Russian diplomat says that a Russian military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela can’t be excluded if tensions with the United States mount.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation in Monday’s talks in Geneva, said in remarks televised Thursday that he would neither confirm nor exclude the possibility that Russia could put its military infrastructure in Cuba and Venezuela.
The negotiations in Geneva and Wednesday’s NATO-Russia meeting in Vienna failed to narrow the gap on Moscow’s security demands amid a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine.
Speaking in an interview with Russian RTVI TV broadcast Thursday, Ryabkov noted that “it all depends on the action by our U.S. counterparts.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also warned Thursday of a complete rupture U.S.-Russian relations if proposed sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top civilian and military leaders are adopted.
The measures, proposed by Senate Democrats, would also target leading Russian financial institutions if Moscow sends troops into Ukraine.
On Wednesday, senior NATO and Russian officials sat down for talks regarding Russia’s decision to amass 100,000 troops on the border of Ukraine. The move has worried Western allies about a potential invasion.
At those talks, NATO refused to accept the Kremlin’s demands to guarantee that Ukraine would never join the alliance nor remove troops from Eastern Europe.
Earlier this week, senior U.S. and Russian officials met in Geneva for talks aimed at reducing rising diplomatic tensions. The meeting was part of “Strategic Security Dialogue” talks launched by Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin during a June summit.
At those talks, U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken also refused to provide guarantees to Russia regarding Ukraine’s involvement with NATO or the removal of troops in the region.