Russian-US diplomacy stalls, with a shelled Ukrainian kindergarten a stark reminder of the lives at stake

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Fortunately, the shell that hit the Stanytsia Luhanska college took no lives. However they have been a reminder of the very actual stakes for individuals dwelling close to the Line of Contact that separates Ukrainian authorities forces from Russian-backed separatists.

For weeks, world leaders have been shuttling forwards and backwards to satisfy Russian President Vladimir Putin and making high-level telephone calls to attempt to put the brakes on a confrontation between Russia and the West over the Ukraine disaster.

But in Moscow immediately, there’s been no indicators of a breakthrough, however a transparent ratcheting up of rigidity. On Thursday afternoon native time, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan paid a go to to the Russian Ministry of International Affairs, the place he acquired a long-awaited response from the Russian authorities to a written doc delivered to Russia three weeks earlier.

The doc made clear that the Russians laid full blame on the US and its allies for stoking the Ukraine disaster, at the same time as proof continues to mount of that as many as 150,000 Russian troops are arrayed round Ukraine’s borders.

“There isn’t a plan for a ‘Russian invasion’ of Ukraine, because the U.S. and its allies have been alleging on the official degree since final Autumn,” the doc, launched by Russian state information company RIA-Novosti mentioned. “Subsequently, claims about ‘Russian culpability for the escalation’ can’t be interpreted as something aside from an try to strain and devalue Russian gives of safety ensures.”

At about the identical time, the US State Division confirmed Russia had expelled the second-most senior diplomat on the US diplomatic mission in Moscow, a transfer that US President Joe Biden’s administration called an “escalatory” step.

That escalation has clearly been incremental: A senior State Division official mentioned that Bart Gorman, the US Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow was formally expelled by Moscow earlier this yr, given two weeks to depart and left Moscow final week.

So the place does that depart diplomacy? It is nonetheless not fully useless. Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov met on Thursday along with his Italian counterpart, Italian International Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Lavrov basically laid out the identical grievance that was within the written reply delivered to the US: The People and NATO have ignored Russia’s core safety considerations, he mentioned, and not one of the secondary points — on the technical particulars of arms management, as an example — might be resolved “till we agree on our key positions.”

And on these key positions, significantly concerning the problem of who can be a part of NATO, Russia and the West stay very, very far aside.

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