Kremlin sees 'room for dialogue' with US

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US is open to addressing Russian concerns about Ukraine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US is open to addressing Russian concerns about Ukraine.

The Kremlin says there is room to continue dialogue with the United States, but it looks clear Russia's main security demands have not been taken into account by Washington.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would not rush to draw conclusions after the US formally responded on Wednesday to its proposals for a redrawing of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.

Describing tensions on the continent as reminiscent of the Cold War, Peskov said it would take time for Moscow to review the US response.

He said it was in both Moscow and Washington's interests to continue dialogue, though he said that remarks out of the US and NATO about Russia's main demands being unacceptable did not leave a lot of room for optimism.

"Based on what our colleagues said yesterday it's absolutely clear that on the main categories outlined in those draft documents ... we cannot say that our thoughts have been taken into account or that a willingness has been shown to take our concerns into account," Peskov said.

"But we won't rush with our assessments."

In separate comments, Russia's top diplomat said there was hope of starting serious dialogue, but only on secondary questions and not on the fundamental ones, Russian news agencies reported.

President Vladimir Putin will decide on Russia's next steps with regards to the US and NATO written responses that were handed over on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying.

In its response, the US repeated its commitment to upholding NATO's "open-door" policy while offering a "principled and pragmatic evaluation" of the Kremlin's concerns, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about Ukraine on Wednesday, highlighting the global security and economic risks that could stem from further Russian aggression, the State Department said.

"Secretary Blinken ... conveyed that de-escalation and diplomacy are the responsible way forward," department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Russia has demanded NATO pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe and bar its neighbour Ukraine, a former Soviet state, from ever joining.

Washington and its NATO allies reject that position but say they are ready to discuss other topics such as arms control and confidence-building measures.

"Putting things in writing is ... a good way to make sure we're as precise as possible, and the Russians understand our positions, our ideas, as clearly as possible. Right now, the document is with them and the ball is in their court," Blinken told reporters.

Whether President Vladimir Putin is prepared to accept Washington and its allies' agenda will determine the next phase of the crisis, in which Moscow has massed around 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine while denying it plans to invade.

NATO says it is putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, while the US, Britain and others are providing weapons to help Ukraine defend against Russia's much larger army.

In Paris, diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany held more than eight hours of talks on ending a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, part of the wider crisis between Moscow and Kyiv that risks becoming a full-scale war.

Australian Associated Press