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Putin aide: Tensions with Ukraine, Nato disturbing



This week’s inconclusive diplomacy by the US and Europe to head off a possible Russian military move against Ukraine was a “disturbing” outcome, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.
While saying “we’re not speaking about military action” in the sense of setting an ultimatum, Peskov reiterated Russia’s call for Nato to guarantee it will never admit Ukraine — something the alliance rejects— because otherwise “legally it will be possible” for Ukraine to join.
“There are some understandings between us,” Peskov said. “But in general, in principle, we can now say that we are staying on different tracks, on totally different tracks, and this is not good, and this is disturbing.”
After a series of talks this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping the US and its European allies guessing over his intentions in massing some 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. Russia says it wants Nato to bar Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states from membership and to roll back its forces to positions they held in 1997.
The bloc keeps saying “we’re not going to say that we will not deploy any offensive weapons on Ukraine’s territory,” but that isn’t sufficient, Peskov said on “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” according to a transcript of an interview scheduled for broadcast Sunday. The Biden administration said Friday that Russian actors are preparing potential sabotage operations against their own forces and fabricating provocations in social media to justify an invasion into Ukraine if diplomacy fails.
Putin’s government has prepositioned operatives trained in urban warfare and using explosives, possibly to carry out acts of sabotage against Russia’s proxy forces in or near Ukraine, administration officials said Friday.
The US has information indicating that Russia is “working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said a Russian invasion, if it happens, “could begin between mid-January and mid-February.”

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