Country won’t rule out military deployment to Cuba, Venezuela
Russia raised the stakes Thursday in its dispute with the West over Ukraine and NATO’s expansion when a top diplomat refused to rule out a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if tensions with the United States escalate.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the US and its allies don’t curtail their military activities on Russia’s doorstep.
“It all depends on the action by our US counterparts,” the minister said in an interview with Russian television network RTVI, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow could take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the US and its allies fail to heed its demands.
Ryabkov led a Russian delegation in talks with the US on Monday. The negotiations in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels took place in response to a significant Russian troop build-up near Ukraine that the West fears might be a prelude to an invasion.
Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, has denied having plans to attack the neighbouring country. The Kremlin reacted to the suggestion by accusing NATO of threatening its territory and demanding that the military alliance never embrace Ukraine or any other ex-Soviet nations as new members.
Washington and its allies firmly rejected the demand this week as a non-starter, but the NATO and Russian delegations agreed to leave the door open to further talks on arms control and other issues intended to reduce the potential for hostilities.