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Russia says Washington has replied to Moscow security demands

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Russia said on Wednesday that it had received Washington’s response to Moscow’s security demands from US ambassador John Sullivan.

“The head of the American diplomatic mission handed over a written response of the US administration to the draft bilateral treaty on security guarantees,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement following Sullivan’s meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

No further details were provided.

Russia in December unveiled proposals to contain what Moscow sees as the growing influence of the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Russia released unfinished security documents — an unusual move in diplomacy — that call for the US-led NATO alliance not to admit new members or establish bases in ex-Soviet countries.

Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border in preparation for a possible invasion.

Moscow denies plans to invade the country, where in addition to annexing Crimea, it has been backing separatist forces in the east since 2014. The conflict there has already claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Russia stressed however that its next course of action will depend on the responses from Washington and NATO, which said Wednesday it too was about to submit a written reply.

Earlier Wednesday, a senior member of the ruling United Russia party said the party had urged the Kremlin to start arming Ukraine’s breakaway regions to help them defend themselves against Western-backed government forces.

The West and Kyiv accuse Moscow of fuelling the insurgency in eastern Ukraine by sending weapons and troops across the border.

Russia has always denied such claims, but Wednesday’s statement could indicate a possible change in Moscow’s official stance.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said earlier Wednesday the United States believes President Vladimir Putin remains poised to use force against Ukraine “perhaps (between) now and the middle of February”.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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