Russia Delivers Further Blow to Diplomatic Hopes of Solving Ukraine Crisis

Russia's embassy in Washington has said Moscow will not be swayed by U.S. threats of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Monday's statement followed a rancorous exchange between the countries at the United Nations as the prospect of diplomacy easing fears of a Moscow-led invasion of Ukraine seemed further away than ever.

The mission said on Facebook that "the generator of tension is not Moscow but Washington" and that "we are not going to back away and stand at attention, heeding the threat of U.S. sanctions."

Tass said the embassy was irked by a U.S. State Department tweet on Monday, which described as a "fact" the statement that Russia had "invaded Ukraine in 2014 and occupied Crimea" and "massed more than 100,000 troops at the border."

But the Russian embassy reiterated the Kremlin's position that the events of 2014 followed a "coup" in Kyiv, and that people in Crimea had "voted for reunification with Russia," although the referendum it referred to was criticized globally as illegitimate.

"It is the United States that supplies the Ukrainian authorities with modern offensive weapons," the embassy said, claiming the U.S. aimed to "solve the problem of Donbass by force."

This referred to the east of Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv-backed forces since 2014 when Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.

The mission also defended the movement of Russian troops "on our own soil" and accused the U.S. violating "the principle of the indivisibility of security" with the placement of "military infrastructure close to Russian borders."

The same day, harsh words were exchanged during the U.N Security Council debate in which Moscow accused the West of "whipping up tensions" and said that the U.S. had brought "pure Nazis" to power in Kyiv.

On Tuesday, Russia denied a report that Moscow had formally responded to a U.S. proposal to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, ahead of a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Washington Post reported Moscow had given a written response to a U.S. letter that outlined how NATO had rejected Russia's demand to block Ukraine from potential membership.

The request was part of Moscow's demands for security guarantees which were the focus of talks last month.

However, Russia's foreign ministry denied that such a letter had been sent, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin would decide on his own when to respond. Newsweek has contacted the State Department for comment.

Adding to tensions was the announcement by Russia's defense ministry that its troops had staged military drills with automatic grenade launchers in Transnistria, the pro-Moscow separatist region of Moldova.

U.S. Senate foreign relations committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has said he was confident the panel would advance a bill slapping tough sanctions against Russia.

However, such measures could risk accelerating further repressions in Russia because the financial burden they could cause would mean authorities would act to keep the country under control.

"This shift will mean an even tougher, far broader political crackdown that visits not just opposition politics but also business, journalism, culture, and more," analyst Tatiana Stanovaya wrote in a piece for the Moscow Carnegie Center, which was shared by R.Politik on Telegram.

"Even 'systemic' opposition parties, like the Communist Party, won't be safe."

Ukrainian serviceman
A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman on the frontline near Zolote village, in the eastern Lugansk region, on January 21, 2022. ANATOLII STEPANOV/Getty