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US Prepared 18 Response Scenarios in Case of 'Russian Invasion' of Ukraine, Victoria Nuland Says

© Sarahbeth ManeyVictoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, points her finger while joking with a photographer before testifying during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine U.S.-Russia policy at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, points her finger while joking with a photographer before testifying during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine U.S.-Russia policy at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool) - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.01.2022
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The US, NATO, and Russia met earlier this week to discuss European security issues, including the alliance's continuing expansion towards Russia's borders, which Moscow opposes, and the ongoing concerns of the West regarding an alleged Russian military buildup near Ukraine.
The US prepared 18 response scenarios in case Russia decides to invade Ukraine as the West fears it might do, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said in an interview with the Financial Times on Saturday. She refused to elaborate on what exactly they were, but promised that Washington and its allies are ready to inflict high costs on Russia if it acts aggressively.
"I would simply say that our commitment and the conversation that we have with our allies is around inflicting very sharp pain very fast, if Russia makes this move in any form", Nuland said.
The under secretary went on to note that specific sanctions imposed against Russia by the US and European partners might be different. She explained that some things are not as easy to do for the Europeans as they are for the US and vice versa.

US and Russia Heard Each Other Out, Agreements Yet to Be Reached

Nuland also commented on the talks between the US and Russia that took place on 10 January. The under secretary said that Washington believes the path to a diplomatic resolution of the ongoing tensions remains open and praised the talks as the first step.
She stressed that the US and Russia had "heard each other out" during these talks, but added that reaching any agreement will "need more time". The under secretary noted that the White House is currently working on a written response to Russian representatives on the results of the talks.
"We believe that we can de-escalate and we can make some progress on some of these things through diplomacy. We hope and expect that with some of the ideas that we put on the table, Moscow will stay at the table, but that’s Putin’s choice".
The talks between Washington and Moscow were followed by a NATO-Russia meeting on 12 January. During these two days of negotiations, the sides discussed matters of European security, namely tensions around Ukraine. Ahead of the discussions Russia laid down its draft proposals, which included two demands closely related to the country's national security – to prevent the further eastward expansion of NATO and to move the bloc's weaponry further away from the Russian border.
Both the US and NATO refused to even consider these key proposals, but indicated that they are ready to discuss the arms control agreements and limits on military exercises in the vicinity of Russia's borders. The two noted that Russia would have to take reciprocal steps as well. The allies demanded that Moscow tone down its military presence near Ukraine's borders, which it had allegedly been ramping up in recent months.
Russian-Belarussian joint exercises in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region, March 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2022
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Several western nations have repeatedly floated allegations that the Kremlin might be preparing an invasion of Ukraine and threatened harsh sanctions if it happens to be the case. Moscow strongly rejected these allegations and claims of unusual military movements in the western part of Russia. The Kremlin rejected demands to move its troops, noting that the voluntary deployment of armed forces within the territory of Russia is its sovereign right.
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