Russia sets out tough demands for security pact with NATO

 Moscow  demands NATO pulls back as tensions rising over Ukraine


Russia has put forward tough demands for a security pact with NATO. Russia demands includes that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance's military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. It is certain that NATO and US will reject these demands.

The proposals, which were submitted to the US and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending US and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, along with a halt to NATO military drills near Russia.

The demand for a written guarantee that Ukraine won't be offered membership already has been rejected by the West, which said Moscow doesn't have a say in NATO's enlargement.

NATO’s secretary-general emphasised on Friday that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House similarly said it’s discussing the proposals with US allies and partners, but noted that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.

The publication of the demands contained in a proposed Russia-US security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO comes amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine. The US and NATO officials are accusing that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. Moscow has denied it has plans to attack its neighbour but wants legal guarantees precluding NATO expansion and deploying weapons there.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia’s relations with the US and NATO have approached a “dangerous point,” noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.

Moscow wants the U.S. to start talks immediately on the proposals in Geneva, he told reporters.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had received the Russian 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.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration is ready to discuss Moscow’s concerns about NATO in talks with Russian officials, but emphasised that Washington is committed to the “principle of nothing about you without you” in shaping policy that impacts European allies.

Moscow’s draft also calls for efforts to reduce the risk of incidents involving Russia and NATO warships and aircraft, primarily in the Baltic and the Black seas, increase the transparency of military drills and other confidence-building measures.

A senior U.S. official said some of the Russian proposals are part of an arms control agenda between Moscow and Washington, while some other issues, such as transparency and deconfliction, concern all 57 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including Ukraine and Georgia.

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 neighbour.

The Russian demands would oblige Washington and its allies to pledge to halt NATO's eastward expansion to include other ex-Soviet republics and rescind a 2008 promise of membership to Ukraine and Georgia. The alliance already has firmly rejected that demand from Moscow.

Moscow's documents also would preclude the US and other NATO allies from conducting any military activities in Ukraine, other countries of Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus and in Central Asia.

                                                                             International desk

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