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Monday, February 6, 2023

Russia demands that Ukraine not be admitted to NATO, others

Vladimir Isachenkov and Lorne Cook | Associated Press

MOSCOW – Russia on Friday released draft security demands for NATO to deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet states and scale back alliance military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe – bold ultimatums that will almost certainly be rejected by the United States and its allies.

The proposals, which were presented to the United States and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on the sending of American and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, as well as for an end to NATO military exercises near Russia. …

The requirement for a written guarantee that Ukraine will not be offered membership has already been rejected by the West, which has said that Moscow has no say in NATO expansion.

The NATO Secretary General responded on Friday, stressing that any security talks with Moscow must address NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House also said it was discussing proposals with US allies and partners, but noted that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.

The release of the requirements contained in the proposed US-Russian security treaty and security agreement between Moscow and NATO comes amid a surge in tensions over a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied plans to attack its neighbor, but is seeking legal guarantees against NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia’s relations with the US and NATO had come to a “dangerous point,” noting that the alliance’s deployments and exercises near Russia posed “unacceptable” threats to its security.

Moscow wants the US to immediately begin negotiations on the proposals in Geneva, he told reporters.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance received Russian documents and noted that any dialogue with Moscow “will also have to take into account NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, will be based on the basic principles and documents of European security and will be consulted. with NATO’s European partners such as Ukraine. “

He added that 30 NATO countries “made it clear that if Russia takes concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are ready to work on strengthening confidence-building measures.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that strategic security talks with Moscow go back decades, adding that “there is no reason why we cannot do this by moving forward to reduce instability, but we are going to do it in partnership and coordination with our European countries ”. allies and partners ”.

“Without our European allies and partners, there will be no negotiations on European security,” Psaki said. “We will not compromise on the key principles on which European security is built, including that all countries have the right to determine their own future and foreign policy without outside interference.”

The Moscow draft also calls for efforts to reduce the risk of incidents involving Russian and NATO warships and aircraft, primarily in the Baltic and Black Seas, increase the transparency of military exercises and other confidence-building measures.

A senior US official said that some of the Russian proposals are part of the arms control agenda between Moscow and Washington, while some other issues, such as transparency and conflict resolution, affect all 57 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. including Ukraine and other countries. Georgia.

The official, who, on condition of anonymity, briefed reporters about the proposals, said the US was studying how to involve each affected country in forward-looking negotiations on European security issues and would respond to Moscow sometime next week. specific proposals after consultation with allies.

President Vladimir Putin raised the issue of security guarantees during a video call with US President Joe Biden last week. During the conversation, Biden expressed concern about the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “serious consequences” if Moscow attacks its neighbor.

US intelligence officials say Russia has deployed 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow denies any intention to attack and has accused Ukraine of planning an offensive to regain control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine – a charge Kiev denied.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. He claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial center of Ukraine, known as the Donbass.

Russia’s demands will oblige Washington and its allies to commit themselves to halting NATO’s eastward expansion to include other former Soviet republics, and to revoke their 2008 membership pledge to Ukraine and Georgia. The Alliance has already categorically rejected this demand from Moscow.

Moscow’s documents will also prevent the United States and other NATO allies from waging any military action in Ukraine, other Eastern European countries, and the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry commented on Moscow’s proposals, stressing that NATO and Ukraine should discuss the prospects for NATO membership, adding that the same applies to Ukraine’s military cooperation with other countries.

“Russian aggression and the current escalation of Russian escalation along the Ukrainian border and in the occupied territories are now a major challenge for Euro-Atlantic security,” said her spokesman, Oleg Nikolenko.

The Russian proposal also raises the ante with a new demand to scale back NATO military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe, stating that the parties agree not to send troops to areas where they were not present in 1997 – until NATO enlargement eastward. started – except for exceptional situations by mutual agreement.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999, followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In subsequent years, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia became NATO members, as a result of which 30 countries joined NATO.

The draft proposals contain a ban on the deployment of US and Russian warships and aircraft in “areas where they can hit targets on the territory of the other side.”

Moscow has long complained about the patrol flights of US strategic bombers near Russia’s borders and the deployment of US and NATO warships in the Black Sea, calling them destabilizing and provocative.

The Russian project pledges not to deploy intermediate-range missiles in areas where they could strike the other side, a clause following the withdrawal of the United States and Russia from the Cold War pact banning such weapons.

World Nation News Desk
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