US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland recalled that her country continues to rely on diplomacy to resolve the conflict with Russia over Ukraine and is in contact with its European allies to discuss possible responses that could harm the continent not destabilize.
“We believe that with the help of diplomacy we can de-escalate and make progress on a number of issues,” Nuland said in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper. In it, he said that Washington expects Moscow to continue negotiations, but stressed that this decision must be made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Nuland, the US and Russia have reached a point where they are limited to “just listening” to each country’s opinions, and he has made it clear that a concrete agreement will take time.
“We want to continue talks with Russia. We believe this should be done on the basis of reciprocity, specifically that they express their discomfort, but we also have our fears,” the US official stressed.
On Washington’s side, according to Nuland, the door is open to a diplomatic solution, but the White House is preparing “answers” to any actions by Russia.
“I don’t intend to speculate about 18 different scenarios. I would simply say that our decision and the negotiations that we have had with our partners are about the possibility of causing very great damage very quickly if Russia interferes in any way with this step,” he stressed.
The statements come after the United States warned that Russia could be preparing a fictitious attack on pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine to justify a possible invasion of the country “in mid-January and early February,” an operation confirmed by both was rejected by the White House and the Pentagon and by the Russian Embassy.
Nuland downplayed concerns by some European countries about excessive sanctions against Russia given the importance of gas supplies. The talks with allies were “very comprehensive” and left a “very clear picture” of what the United States can do about it, the Secretary of State said.