In a weekend interview on CNN, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman alluded to the possibility of deploying offensive weapons inside Ukrainian territory, following last week's series of three urgent meetings with NATO which Moscow deemed "unsuccessful".
Dmitry Peskov in his comments to Fareed Zakaria on his show "GPS" said that at this moment of "extremely dangerous" tensions with the West, he can't rule out the possibility of an offensive military deployment to Ukraine. However, he still emphasized there are no such plans currently, and prior repeat Russian insistence that there were never any Ukraine invasion plans.
Kremlin Press Secretary Peskov on the Ukraine–Russia conflict: "We are insisting on solving the situation, solving the problem. We have too much tension on the border. We have too much tension in this part of Europe. [...] It's extremely, extremely dangerous." pic.twitter.com/RwsW3VTfzK— The Hill (@thehill) January 15, 2022
Peskov's suggestion appeared to be that if Washington refused to take seriously Russia's demands of committing to no further NATO eastward expansion, and that if the US continues to get more deeply involved in Ukraine, drastic options would still be available from Russia's perspective.
In the CNN interview to be broadcast Sunday, Peskov described: "We have too much tension on the border [with Ukraine]. We have too much tension in this part of Europe. It drags [in] more problems automatically. It is extremely dangerous for our continent," he told the host of the ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’ show.
Peskov decried the current atmosphere where the West is blowing off Russia's legitimate security concerns, and seems unwilling to compromise: “This is the reason we are insisting on receiving a direct response." He said that his side in good faith offered "extremely specific proposals" - presented to Washington and Brussels in the form of the draft 'security guarantees' earlier this month.
He stressed that while Moscow isn't at the moment "speaking about military action" - it remains that Russia is not "going to say that we will not deploy any offensive weapons on Ukraine’s territory."
Russia has no plans attack Ukraine, but could not say it would never deploy any weapons in its large southern neighbor, the Kremlin has told @cnn, adding that Moscow is willing to talk to the US again, but only if its concerns are addressed.https://t.co/lIqZgS3MVq— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) January 16, 2022
However, it remains unclear the degree to which he posited this as 'an option'. Instead, it seems the remarks simply reflect that with no apparent willingness to compromise coming out of the West, the Kremlin can't in turn take any option of the table.
Of the more controversial statements by Peskov, Russian media clarified the following:
Later, on Sunday, Peskov elaborated on what he had said about potential weapons deployment to Ukraine. Before any judgment was passed, he told Russian media, his statement needed to be understood in context, adding that a quote attributed to him by America's Bloomberg was "their words." RT was unable to access the full interview at the time of publication.
So, according to Peskov, Russia is not going to attack Ukraine, but "cannot exclude" the option of deploying troops on Ukrainian soil regardless of the wishes of the Ukrainian government. Presumably Warsaw Pact style, as "brotherly help" https://t.co/45dkg2m0OO— Jonathan Eyal (@JEyal_RUSI) January 16, 2022
The likelihood remains that if the dialogue which began in Geneva, Brussels, and Vienna last week is not extended, the ongoing tit-for-tat threats could give way to increasing action on the ground, leading step-by-step to direct conflict in Eastern Ukraine and along the border.
Meanwhile, elsewhere along Russia's European border regions...
"The move came after three Russian landing ships sailed into the Baltic Sea through the Great Belt Strait in Denmark this week, and amid increased tensions between Russia and NATO."https://t.co/H6bSZcKHdF— Justin Coleman (@DemopJ) January 15, 2022