Tue, 24 May 2022

Moscow has stressed that it can do as it wishes on its own soil

Russia will never consider discussing the withdrawal of missiles from its Kaliningrad region, a western exclave that borders Poland, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Peskov was asked about the status of talks on European security between Russia, the US, and NATO, and whether Moscow would consider pulling Iskander missiles, a short-range ballistic system, out of Kaliningrad as part of an effort to reduce tensions.

"Russia will never discuss with anyone withdrawal of any missiles and any weapons from Kaliningrad because Kaliningrad is a territory of Russia," he answered. "And with all due respect, we will never tolerate any demands for us to do this or that on our own territory."

CNN also asked Peskov about a number of other "demands" that Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia, published on Twitter recently. In addition to removing missiles from Kaliningrad, the proposals included withdrawing forces from neighboring countries, returning Crimea to Ukraine, and halting support for separatist forces in Ukraine's eastern regions, where Western authorities have accused Russia of supporting rebels, which Moscow denies.

"So, we have Russian peacekeepers in various regions and the situation is still very fresh, is still very, very fragile, and potentially the withdrawal of Russians can lead to the inflammation of a new crisis," Peskov replied. "We don't know what the outcome can be," he stressed, claiming that if Russia were to withdraw troops, all-out conflict could reignite.

Peskov's interview comes after security talks held last week between Russia, the US, and NATO, during which the sides discussed ongoing tensions over Ukraine. Moscow has requested written guarantees that the US-led military bloc will not expand into Ukraine - an agreement that Western leaders have said is off the table.

Meanwhile, American intelligence services have been warning for months that they fear an imminent Russian invasion of its neighbor, which the Kremlin has dismissed as misinformation.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that he expected the Western powers to make a written reply to Moscow's security proposals within a week.

In his Sunday interview, Peskov maintained that there are no Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, but that there are troops stationed inside Russia near the two countries' border. He said that it would be "madness" for any side to threaten military action, but insisted that Russia must be ready to "take counteractions" if Western powers don't heed its concerns.


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