Russia won’t rule out sending troops to Cuba, Venezuela as Ukraine tensions grow – New York Post

A top Russian diplomat declined to rule out the possibility of the Kremlin deploying troops to Cuba and Venezuela amid ongoing tensions with the US over Ukraine.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s RTVI TV Thursday that Moscow’s next steps “all depends on the action by our US counterparts” and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow could take military-technical measures against what it deems provocation by Washington.

Ryabkov’s warning followed negotiations between Russia and the US in Geneva Monday, which preceded talks between Russian and NATO officials in Vienna Wednesday over Moscow’s demands that the Atlantic alliance halt its expansion and commit to barring Ukraine from ever joining.

At the White House Thursday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed Ryabkov’s remarks, saying: “I’m not gonna respond to bluster in the public commentary that wasn’t raised in discussions at the strategic stability dialogue. If Russia were to move in that direction, we would deal with it decisively.”

The discussions did little to narrow the gap between East and West, with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman calling Russia’s demands “non-starters.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s warning followed negotiations between Russia and the US in Geneva Monday.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

Ryabkov claimed that the US and NATO’s stance indicated a “dead end of difference of approaches,” and added that Russia saw no reason to restart similar talks in the coming days.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also labeled the talks “unsuccessful,” but did say there were “some positive elements and nuances” that took place.

“The talks were initiated to receive specific answers to concrete principal issues that were raised, and disagreements remained on those principal issues, which is bad,” Peskov told reporters, warning that US-Russia relations could suffer a complete break if Congress moves forward with proposed sanctions targeting Putin and other important Russian leaders. 

Approximately 100,000 Russian troops have massed along the country’s western border over the past several months, leaving many fearing an incursion similar to when Moscow annexed Crimea eight years ago.

On Thursday, the Senate rejected a sanctions bill put forward by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), which would have implemented punishments within 15 days of enactment regardless of whether Moscow invades Ukraine.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
Sen. Cruz introduced his sanctions proposal last year.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Cruz bill had the endorsement of Ukraine’s government, but not the Biden administration.

A State Department spokesperson told The Post Wednesday that Cruz’s proposal “will undermine our efforts to deter Russia and remove leverage the United States and our allies and partners possess in this moment all to score political points at home. And it would come at a moment where we need to be closely united with our European partners, including Germany. It makes no sense.”

A Democratic sanctions bill, sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would impose sanctions similar to those put forward by Cruz — including actions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline — but predicates them on a Russian invasion.

Snipers of the Russian armed forces take part in military exercises at the Kadamovsky range in the Rostov region, Russia
Approximately 100,000 Russian troops have massed along the country’s western border over the past several months.
REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

“This legislation makes it absolutely clear that the US Senate will not stand idly by as the Kremlin threatens a re-invasion of Ukraine,” Menendez said in a statement, adding that the “most effective sanction on Russia is a strong and unified Ukraine.”

Peskov slammed the sanction proposals as an attempt to pressure Russia. 

“It concerns sanctions, which taking into account the inevitable adequate response, effectively amount to an initiative to rupture relations,” he said. 

A Russian tank T-72B3 fires as troops take part in drills at the Kadamovskiy firing range in the Rostov region in southern Russia,
A Russian T-72B3 tank fires as troops take part in drills at the Kadamovskiy firing range in the Rostov region in southern Russia.
AP

Russia has repeatedly denied any plans to invade its neighbor, with Ryabkov saying this week: “There is no reason to fear some kind of escalatory scenario.” 

“It’s hardly possible for NATO to dictate to us where we should move our armed forces on the Russian territory,” Peskov said Thursday, adding that Moscow was willing to continue negotiations so long as they produced results.

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Russia won’t rule out sending troops to Cuba, Venezuela as Ukraine tensions grow – New York Post

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