MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. The United States is prepared for talks on New START with Russia ‘tomorrow,’ ready for talks on Ukraine only on the basis of formula proposed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and concerned about China’s possible military assistance to Russia, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told TASS Deputy Chief Editor Yulia Sharifulina.
During the conversation, held via a video linkup, Nuland was asked to comment on the most pressing issues on the bilateral and international agenda, including Russia’s suspension of the New START treaty, the sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines and ways to settle the crisis in Ukraine.
New START talks tomorrow
In his State of the Nation Address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was suspending the New START treaty with the United States, but not withdrawing from it. In this regard, Nuland was asked whether Washington was ready to return to talks on the treaty without accusations and preconditions.
"We’re ready to do it tomorrow if the Russian Federation is ready. And we’re also ready to allow inspections," the diplomat said.
Nuland once again stated that the US views the treaty’s suspension as an irresponsible move. "The US and Moscow have responsibilities to the world to keep our nuclear arsenal safe and secure, and we should do our jobs," Nuland said.
"The US has been ready to go back to the table to ensure implementation of New START from the very beginning," she stressed.
Who blew up Nord Stream pipelines?
The US under secretary of state said the question of whether her country supported Russia’s participation in the investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage should be referred to European countries involved in the project.
"It's not our choice. It's the choice of the countries that have a piece of this pipeline. So, it is their decision whether or not Russia, should participate, not ours," the diplomat said.
Nuland noted that there's an investigation underway "by the parties, the countries that surround that piece." "We will know when that investigation is complete but I want to say definitively here that the United States had nothing to do with this explosion, zero," she stressed.
Who benefitted from it?
Meanwhile, the United States is helping Europe "very well" in substituting for Russian oil and gas, she said.
"What we have been doing with Europe and it’s going very well is helping Europe substitute for Russian oil and gas. And as you see, not only did they survive the winter but they are also seeing a reduction in inflation and many of the difficulties," Nuland said.
The top State Department official claimed that Russia "has sacrificed all of the revenue" that it used to gain from its oil and gas into Europe.
Settlement formula as Washington sees it
The United States backs talks on Ukraine only on the basis of a 10-point "peace formula" proposed by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Nuland told TASS.
"The Ukrainian side has put forward a ten-point peace proposal. There has been zero response from the Russian side with regard to that. If peace negotiations were to start on the basis of the ‘just peace’ formula that the Ukrainians have put forward, obviously we would support that," Nuland said, answering a question if the US was ready for talks on Ukraine.
The top State Department official did not answer a question if Washington has heard Russia’s statements that the negotiations are possible only if the US halts weapons supplies and Kiev stops shelling Russian cities.
"What we say and what President [Joe] Biden said again in Poland is if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends," Nuland said.
The United States is not going to stop weapons supplies to Ukraine, she continued.
"As long as Ukraine has to fight for its survival against Russia’s attacks, we will support Ukraine’s ability to defend itself and to re-establish its sovereignty, its freedom, its territorial integrity," Nuland said, answering a question if the US wound keep sending weapons to Ukraine.
The United States believes that healthy relations between Moscow and Washington can be restored after the Ukrainian conflict is over, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told TASS in an interview.
"All of this [the conflict in Ukraine] could stop tomorrow if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin ordered it," she said. "We will be able to re-establish our appropriate healthy trade links but that’s not the choice your president is making."
Relations with China
When asked to describe relations with China, the US diplomat said it would be very difficult to do.
"In the context of our concerns about whether China is going to contribute to the Russian war machine. <…>. We are having very frank conversations with China and we will continue to do so," Nuland said.
The United States is trying to stabilize its relations with China, but "it’s been difficult in the context of the spy balloon that passed over the United States," Nuland said.