Russia on Friday pushed again for demands that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries, as Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks the negation high ground. The tough demands appear certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies, which have emphasized that Russia doesn’t have a say in NATO. As reported by the AP:
The publication of the draft pacts come amid rising tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine worrying many of an invasion
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Friday published draft security pacts demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries and to roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe — bold demands that the U.S. and its allies already have rejected.
The documents, which have been submitted to the U.S. and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory and demand a rollback on alliance drills near Russia.
The tough demands appear certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies, which have emphasized that Russia doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement. The alliance’s secretary-general warned that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners.
The publication of the draft pacts come amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has drawn Ukrainian and Western fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied plans to attack its neighbor, but demanded the West provide a set of legal guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and other Russian neighbors and the deployment of the alliance’s weapons there, a demand NATO has rejected.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its NATO allies have approached a “dangerous point,” noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.
The draft pacts — a Russia-U.S. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO — contain obligations to pull back weapons and refrain from drills near the borders between Russia and the alliance members.
Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow proposed that the U.S. immediately start the talks on the proposed drafts in Geneva.
The drafts would oblige Washington and its allies take an obligation to halt NATO’s eastward expansion to include other ex-Soviet republics and rescind a 2008 promise of membership to Ukraine and Georgia.
They also would preclude the U.S. and its allies from setting up military bases on the territories of Ukraine, Georgia and other ex-Soviet nations which aren’t members of NATO.
The draft agreement with NATO also contains a bold demand to roll back the alliance’s troops deployments in Central and Eastern Europe, stating that the parties agree not to deploy any troops to areas where they hadn’t been present in 1997, before NATO’s eastward expansion started — except for exclusive situations of mutual consent.
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 the following years, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia also became members, bringing NATO’s total to 30 nations.
A draft treaty with the U.S. contains a ban on the deployment of U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to “areas where they can strike targets on the territory of the other party.”
Moscow has long complained about patrol flights by U.S. strategic bombers near Russian borders and the deployment of U.S. and NATO warships to the Black Sea, describing them as destabilizing and provocative.
Russia’s draft also envisages a pledge not to station intermediate-range missiles in areas where they can strike the other party’s territory, a clause that follows the U.S. and Russian withdrawal from a Cold War-era pact banning such weapons.
President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with U.S. President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Biden voiced concern about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbor.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the alliance had received the Russian draft documents and noted that any dialogue with Moscow “would also need to address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on core principles and documents of European security, and take place in consultation with NATO’s European partners, such as Ukraine.”
He added that the 30 NATO countries “have made clear that should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence building measures.”
U.S. intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow has denied an intention to attack and accused Ukrainian authorities of planning an offensive to reclaim control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine — an allegation Ukraine has rejected.
Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It has killed over 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland called Donbas.
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV and LORNE COOK
Lorne Cook reported from Brussels.