Russia’s deputy foreign minister has compared Moscow’s standoff with the West over a possible invasion of Ukraine to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the tense 1962 confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union that led the world to the brink of nuclear war.
Asked if he was exaggerating by comparing the Ukraine situation to the stalemate over the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, Sergei Ryabkov said, “No, not too much,” Russian media reported Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the US and its European allies guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO, as well as that the alliance will not place troops or install missile systems inside the former Soviet republic. The US and its allies have refused to offer Putin the security guarantees but have said they would be willing to talk.
“We are not bluffing. These are our real proposals. The West’s awareness of this needs to be facilitated and we are going to make every effort to achieve it,” Ryabkov, who is known for his over-the-top rhetoric, said in an interview with a Russian foreign affairs magazine.
The already strained relationship between Moscow and Washington has deteriorated further as up to 175,000 troops and heavy military equipment mass along Russia’s border with Ukraine.
The provocative actions come seven years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea and began backing pro-separatist forces in southeast Ukraine, where fighting has killed thousands.
Talks over the guarantees are expected to start right after the New Year’s holidays, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. The holiday season in Russia continues through Jan. 9.
For 13 tension-filled days in October 1962, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engaged in a standoff over nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, 90 miles from the US.
Kennedy established a naval blockade around the Caribbean island to signal to Moscow that the US would take military action if needed to defend its national security.
The stalemate ended when Khrushchev said he would remove the missiles in Cuba if the US promised not to invade the island.
With Post wires