THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A leaked document published Wednesday in a Spanish newspaper suggests the United States could be willing to enter into an agreement with Russia to ease tensions over missile deployments in Europe if Moscow steps back from the brink in Ukraine.
The document was published a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of ignoring Russia’s key security demands in diplomatic efforts to ease spiraling tensions and fears of war with Ukraine,
Here are things to know Wednesday about the international tensions surrounding Ukraine, which has an estimated 100,000 Russian troops massed along its borders.
WHAT’S IN THE LEAK?
The Spanish daily El Pais published two documents purported to be written replies from the United States and NATO last week to Russia’s proposals for a new security arrangement in Europe.
The U.S. document, marked as a confidential “non-paper,” said that the United States would be willing to discuss in consultation with its NATO partners “a transparency mechanism to confirm the absences of Tomahawk cruise missiles” at sites in Romania and Poland. U.S. officials could not be immediately contacted to confirm that the document is authentic.
The discussions would only happen if Russia “offers reciprocal transparency measures on two ground-launched missiles bases of our choosing in Russia,” the document said.
NATO declined comment, but the text of the purported NATO document closely reflects statements made by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as he laid out the 30-nation military organization’s position on Russia’s demands.
___ Lorne Cook and Dasha Litvinova
WHAT ARE THE DUTCH DOING?
The Netherlands is working out if the country can offer cyber defense expertise to Ukraine amid diplomatic efforts to ease tensions with Russia.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday for long-planned talks about economic links and the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in eastern Ukraine. But Rutte said the discussions were dominated by the tensions on Ukraine’s border with Russia.
He said “the only route to a solution is through de-escalation, diplomacy and dialogue.”
Rutte said the Netherlands “will in the meantime, support Ukraine wherever we can. For example, we are talking about offering Dutch assistance to fend off cyberattacks against Ukraine.”
Russia has launched significant cyberattacks against Ukraine previously and would almost certainly do so again as part of any operation against its neighbor. Such hostile activity against Ukraine could spread far and wide, as the devastating NotPetya attack did in 2017.
___ Mike Corder
WHAT EFFECT IS THE UKRAINE CRISIS HAVING ON INFLATION?
The specter of conflict between Russia and Ukraine is helping drive up prices across the 19 nations that use the euro currency.
The European Union’s statistics agency reported Wednesday that inflation in the eurozone rose by an annual 5.1% in January, breaking records set in the two previous months and reaching the highest level since record-keeping started in 1997.
Soaring energy prices have played a major role, rising a whopping 28.6%. N atural gas prices have surged in Europe because of depleted winter reserves, lower supplies from Russia and fears of a renewed military move by Moscow against Ukraine. Meanwhile, oil prices have spiked as the global economy recovers from the worst of COVID-19 restrictions.
European Union nations get around 40% of their natural gas supplies from Russia.
___ David McHugh
FAMILY OF JAILED AMERICAN FARMER CALL FOR U.S. HELP TO GET HIM HOME
The family of an American farmer detained in Ukraine on what they call bogus charges is calling on the Biden administration and State Department to “use their leverage” to get him home amid soaring tensions between Kyiv and Moscow and fears of war.
Kurt Groszhans set out from North Dakota for Ukraine in 2017 to connect with his family’s ancestral homeland and farm the country’s fertile soil.
But his farming venture with a law professor who’s now a high-ranking Ukrainian government official fell apart in acrimony and accusations that culminated in his arrest last November on charges of plotting to assassinate his former business partner.
His family and supporters say the accusations are designed to silence Groszhans’ claims of corruption in Ukraine.
As he awaits trial, Ukraine is bracing for a potential Russian invasion and the U.S. has ordered the families of American personnel at the U.S. Embassy to evacuate.
That has left his family fearing that Groszhans could be left behind and calling for U.S. action to get him out of the country.
Asked for comment, the State Department said the administration took seriously its responsibility to help detained Americans and was closely following the case, but declined to comment further.
___ Eric Tucker