WASHINGTON, January 9. /TASS/. The United States is ready to discuss with Russia the non-deployment of American missiles in Ukraine, progress in this area is possible, a high-ranking US administration official announced on Saturday. He said this during a special telephone briefing for reporters ahead of on the upcoming Russian-American security talks.
"Russia has said it feels threatened by the prospect of offensive missile systems being placed in Ukraine. As President Biden told President Putin, the United States has no intention of doing that. So, this is one area where we may be able to reach an understanding if Russia is willing to make a reciprocal commitment," the official said.
"Russia has also expressed an interest in discussing the future of certain missile systems in Europe, along the lines of the INF Treaty, which receive Russia violated and the previous US administration withdrew from. We are open to discussing this possibility as well," he added.
In case of aggression against Ukraine, Russia will have to face not only economic, but also diplomatic sanctions, US administration spokesman said.
"If Russia does choose this other path, we are more than ready and totally aligned with our partners and allies on the need to impose severe costs on Russia, to financial sanctions, export controls and target key industries, enhancement of middle force posture on allied territory, and increased security assistance to Ukraine," the official said.
According to the representative of the US administration, "all of these things are on the table." "And we're not trying to hide from them. But we're also not trying to lay them out in public in detail. Because our view is that the past for most constructive negotiations is to do that behind closed doors," the official said.
The United States will never agree to Russia’s proposals, which imply restrictions for certain countries to join NATO or to cooperate with the alliance, US official said.
"There are some things in Russia's grasp on which we are never going to agree. It is not up to Russia, for example, to decide for other countries who they can be allies with. Those are decisions only for those countries and the Alliance itself," the official said.
"In the context of NATO, we refer to that as the open door, and neither Russia nor any other country is going to slam it shut," the representative of the US administration added.
The United States is ready to discuss with Russia restrictions on the size and scope of military exercises, including strategic bombers, US official announced.
"In recent years, Russia has conducted a series of ever larger and more courses military exercises along its border with NATO allies," the official said.
"Russia says if security is threatened by US and NATO exercises as well. So, we're willing to explore the possibility of reciprocal restrictions on the size and scope of such exercises, including both strategic bombers close to each other's territory, and ground based exercises as well," he added.
Troops in Eastern Europe
The United States is not going to discuss the number of its troops in Eastern Europe with Russia at the upcoming meetings in Geneva, US official announced.
"We have also seen reports of other things the US is open to discussing like truth numbers or elements of force posture in NATO countries. I want to be clear that this is not on the table," the official said.
Earlier on Saturday, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby also wrote on Twitter that the United States is not considering the possibility of reducing the number of troops in Europe or changing its position on this issue in anticipation of negotiations with Russia.
"Can state unequivocally that we are not weighing cuts to troops in Europe or posture changes there. Also not looking at changing troop numbers in the Baltics and Poland," he tweeted.
Events in Kazakhstan
The recent events in Kazakhstan are not in any meaningful way related to the United States, US official said.
When asked to comment if Washington thinks that the events in Kazakhstan diverted Russia’s attention away from Ukraine, the official said:
"I think that's really a question for the Kremlin and for the government of Russia, not a question for the United States. What is happening in Kazakhstan is not in any meaningful way about us."
According to him, the United States is concerned about the possible use of "violence against peaceful demonstrators," about the safety of "US personnel in Kazakhstan" and is "making plans accordingly."
"But beyond that, we don't have a lot to say about this situation. And I think your question is a good one and one very appropriately directed to the Kremlin," he stressed.
Talks between Russia and the US on security guarantees are planned on January 10 in Geneva. Moscow will also discuss its concerns in the security sphere in Europe on January 12 at the Russia-NATO Council’s meeting in Brussels and at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on January 13.