The U.S. with our Allies and partners led an intensive diplomatic effort this week to de-escalate tensions that Russia created with its massive build-up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border. The United States met bilaterally with Russia in an extraordinary session of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, NATO Allies engaged Russia at the NATO-Russia Council, and the United States participated at a Permanent Council meeting at the OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Throughout the week, the United States, along with its NATO Allies and partners, emphasized the path of diplomacy and called on Russia to de-escalate.
“Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders,” said Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman, who represented the United States at the Dialogue. Yet “Moscow claims it is Ukraine seeking conflict and behaving provocatively, and not Russia. ”It is important to note that in 2014, Russia invaded, and continues to occupy, Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula.
On the two draft treaties put forward in mid-December by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, “We were firm … in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters for the United States,” said Deputy Secretary Sherman.
“We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s “Open Door” policy, which has always been central to the NATO Alliance,” she said. “We will not forego bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States. And we will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, about Europe without Europe, or about NATO without NATO. As we say to our allies and partners, “nothing about you without you.”
Nonetheless, “We have been clear, … that the United States would welcome genuine progress through diplomacy. We also reiterated that we believe genuine progress can only take place in a climate of de-escalation, not escalation,” said Deputy Secretary Sherman.
“If Russia stays at the table and takes concrete steps to de-escalate tensions, we believe we can achieve progress,” she declared. “But if Russia walks away from the diplomatic path, it may well be quite apparent that they were never serious about pursuing diplomacy at all.”
“We’ve made it clear that if Russia further invades Ukraine, there will be significant costs and consequences well beyond what they faced in 2014,” said Deputy Secretary Sherman.
“Those costs,” she noted, “will include financial sanctions, and it’s been reported those sanctions will include key financial institutions, export controls that target key industries, enhancement of NATO force posture on allied territory, and increased security assistance to Ukraine.”
“Russia,” said Deputy Secretary Sherman, “has a stark choice to make.”