The Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Helga Schmid, on January 13, 2022 in Vienna, Austria (AFP / ALEX HALADA)
The United States warned Thursday that it was “ready for all scenarios” against Russia, continuation of dialogue or “severe” reprisals, after an intense diplomatic ballet which did not defuse the threat. of a new conflict in Ukraine.
After a tense American-Russian meeting on Monday in Geneva and then Wednesday’s NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, where the two rival camps noted their deep “differences” on security in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ended this week of talks in Vienna on Thursday by insisting on the “urgency” of dialogue.
But Moscow seems to have showered these hopes, saying it sees no point in new talks with the West “in the coming days”, as the disagreements are great.
According to the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov, they have promised written answers next week to the demands of his country.
– “Reflect” –
The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell at a press conference during an informal meeting of defense ministers of EU member states on January 13, 2022 in Brest, western France (AFP / Fred TANNEAU )
“We will now reflect and consult with our allies and partners on what we are going to do,” said US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, reserving Washington’s response.
While American intelligence believes, according to him, that the Russians have not yet “made a final decision” on a possible invasion of the neighboring country, he assured that the United States was “ready for all scenarios”.
“We are ready to make progress at the negotiating table” and “we are ready to take the necessary and appropriate measures to defend our allies, support our partners, and provide a firm response to any aggression”, “in unison “with the European allies, hammered Jake Sullivan.
Westerners accuse Russia of having deployed nearly 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border for a potential attack, but the Kremlin refutes this intention and demands for its part that NATO modify its posture deemed threatening at its gates.
– “Perilous” situation –
“The situation in the region is perilous,” warned OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid at the opening of its Permanent Council in the Austrian capital. “It is imperative to find, through diplomatic channels, a way to stem the escalation and begin to rebuild trust, transparency and cooperation.”
The OSCE, which emerged from the Cold War and is one of the rare exchange forums of which the United States and Russia are both members, is “a unique place for this”, she insisted.
Poland, which takes over the annual rotating presidency of the OSCE from Sweden, has also expressed its concern, like other Eastern European countries formerly subject to the authority of Moscow.
(lr) US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, January 12, 2022 in Brussels (POOL / Olivier HOSLET)
“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area has never been so intense in the past 30 years,” said Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. “A daunting challenge for this organization, whose aim is precisely to banish war from Europe.”
In the same vein, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, judged, from New York, “absolutely essential” to dialogue to “avoid any form of confrontation which would be a disaster for Europe and the world”.
– Russian “Disappointment” –
But the two rival camps are sticking to their positions.
From L to R, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, in Brussels January 12, 2022 (POOL / Olivier HOSLET)
There is “no question of negotiating under pressure”, warned the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, while the American ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter said he wanted “resolutely to reject blackmail and ensure that ‘aggression like threats never bear fruit’.
Faced with the icy reception given by the West to the demands of the Kremlin, which wants in particular the guarantee that the Atlantic Alliance will close its doors to new candidates for membership in Eastern Europe such as Ukraine, the Russian representative at the OSCE, Alexander Loukachevitch, castigated “the absence of an appropriate response”.
“It all revolved around their concerns and the so-called aggressive behavior of Russia,” he regretted after the Vienna meeting. “It’s clearly a disappointment.”
Map of Ukraine locating regions under separatist control and Crimea, annexed by Russia ( AFP / )
On the ground, conditions have deteriorated for OSCE observers in areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Michael Carpenter also deplored, saying he was “extremely worried”.
Since 2014, the OSCE has been tasked with monitoring compliance with the Minsk peace accords in the rebellious eastern part of Ukraine.