Moscow will halt military steps in Ukraine – only after a US guarantee not to post missile shield there

As Washington and the Europeans – and especially the UK – continue to decry Russian military aggression, the US and Russians have quietly entered into intense negotiations on a compromise for resolving their dispute over Ukraine, debkafile’s Washington and Moscow sources report.

Moscow insists on keeping in place the military forces which took control of Crimea over the weekend, but is ready to discuss terms for restraining the Russian army from advancing into the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

The exchanges between the two powers are going through Berlin. The German government is making every effort to dispel the winds of war coming in from the east. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin conferred Sunday night by phone and decided to talk again about ways of promoting the negotiations.

Our sources were unable to confirm that Merkel ever said to President Barack Obama when she reported on the conversation in reference to Putin that “she was not sure he was in touch with reality. He lives in another world.”

However, according to our US and Russian sources, Putin is after hard, practical strategic gains, principally, a demilitarized Crimea that would not threaten Russia from its western doorstep.

In fact, the Russian president has couched his demands for further negotiations under four headings:

1.  The Kiev government whichever form it takes must sign an obligation to abstain from any ties with NATO.

2.  Neither the US, NATO or any other power will deploy X-Band or BX-1 radar stations on Ukraine territory whether on land, sea or air. This guarantee would additionally cover elements of an anti-missile missile shield and ballistic missiles placing Russia in their sights.

3.  Restrictions will govern the types of weapons allowed the Ukrainian army.

4.  Local military bodies will be established to protect the Russian-speaking and ethnic Russian regions of Ukraine.

Putin emphasized in his conversation with Merkel that, until those four conditions are met, Russian forces would remain where they are in Crimea and if this was deemed necesssary, advance into other parts of Ukraine.

Full article: Moscow will halt military steps in Ukraine – only after a US guarantee not to post missile shield there (DEBKAfile)

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