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Russian cities 'under the bomb-sight': Envoy says 'we are on the edge of precipice'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia and NATO flags

One of the main threats to Russia’s national security is NATO’s eastward expansion that shortens the flight time to cities in the country's European part, its ambassador to the US says. 

“As the bloc approaches our border proper, the flight time of NATO air and missile weapons to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in the European part of the country is reduced,” Anatoly Antonov said in an interview with Newsweek magazine.

“How would the US Government react if Washington, New York or Los Angeles were ‘under the bomb-sight’?” he told the leading American publication. 

Antonov said NATO’s efforts aimed at the military development of the former Soviet republics are unacceptable and the deployment of missile systems and other destabilizing weapons directly threatens Russia.

“As a result, the risks of escalation and direct military clashes in the region and beyond will increase manifold. Everything has its limits. We are, in fact, on the edge of the precipice,” Antonov said.

The Russian envoy said discussions held last week with the United States and NATO had not yielded "any significant results”.

“We expect written responses from Washington and Brussels to our draft agreements. Based on them, we will make a decision on the advisability of further joint work,” he said, referring to the guarantees which Russia is demanding. 

Ukraine was not among the issues discussed in the Geneva talks on January 10, but it was mentioned as a secondary topic at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on January 12, he added.

On Monday, Geneva hosted Russian-US consultations on security guarantees. On Thursday, a Russia-NATO Council meeting was held in Brussels, and a meeting of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Permanent Council was held in Vienna on the same day.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and his American counterpart, Wendy Sherman, held on Monday more than seven hours of negotiations, which focused on a wide-ranging new security arrangement that Moscow is seeking with the West over NATO’s eastward expansion and Ukraine’s potential membership in the US-led military alliance.

In press briefings after the talks, the two diplomats spoke of substantial differences. Ryabkov said Russia and the US had “opposite views on what needs to be done,” and Sherman said the Russian proposals had been “simply non-starters to the United States.”

The tensions between Russia and the West have escalated following the series of talks, with the United States threatening heavy sanctions and the European Union taking a more confrontational approach.

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