By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV and LORNE COOK, Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) – Russia on Friday released draft security demands that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union and cancel military deployments from the Soviet Union. alliance in Central and Eastern Europe – bold ultimatums that will almost certainly be rejected by the United States and its allies.
The proposals, which were submitted to the United States and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending American and Russian warships and planes to areas from which they can strike. on the other, as well as the cessation of NATO military exercises near Russia. .
The demand for a written guarantee that Ukraine will not be offered membership has already been rejected by the West, which has said Moscow has no say in NATO enlargement.
The NATO Secretary General responded on Friday, stressing that any security talks with Moscow should take into account NATO’s concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House has also said it is discussing the proposals with U.S. allies and partners, but notes that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.
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The publication of the demands – contained in a draft Russian-American security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO – comes amid growing tensions over an accumulation of Russian troops near Ukraine which raised fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied planning to attack its neighbor, but is seeking legal guarantees that prevent NATO expansion and the deployment of weapons there.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia’s relations with the United States and NATO were approaching a “dangerous point”, noting that alliance deployments and exercises near Russia had posed “unacceptable” threats to his security.
Moscow wants the United States to immediately start talks 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 “should also address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on fundamental principles and European security documents, and take place in consultation with NATO’s European partners, such as Ukraine.
He added that the 30 NATO countries “have made it clear that if Russia takes concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are ready to work on strengthening confidence-building measures.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that strategic security talks with Moscow date back decades, adding that “there’s no reason we can’t do this to reduce the instability, but we will do it in partnership and coordination with our allies and partners.
“There will be no European security talks without our European allies and partners,” Psaki said. “We will not compromise the key principles on which European security is based, including the fact that all countries have the right to decide their own future and their foreign policy without external interference. “
President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees during last week’s video call with US President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Biden expressed his concerns about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “serious consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbor.
US 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 denies any intention to attack and accuses Ukraine of planning an offensive to regain control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine – an allegation Kiev has dismissed.
Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has killed over 14,000 people and devastated hearts industrialist from Ukraine, known as Donbas.
The Russian demands would force Washington and its allies to pledge to halt NATO’s eastward expansion to include other ex-Soviet republics and to cancel a 2008 membership pledge to Ukraine and Georgia. The alliance has already firmly rejected this request from Moscow.
The demands would also prevent the United States and its allies from setting up military bases in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries of the former Soviet Union that are not members of NATO.
The proposal also contains a new call to roll back NATO troop deployments to Central and Eastern Europe, stipulating that the parties agree not to send troops to areas where they were not present in 1997 – before beginning of NATO expansion eastward – with the exception of 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 membership to 30 countries.
The draft proposals contain a ban on the deployment of US and Russian warships and planes in “areas where they can strike targets in the territory of the other party.”
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.
Russia’s plan also contemplates a commitment not to station intermediate-range missiles in areas where they can strike the other party’s territory, a clause that follows the withdrawal of the United States and Russia from a Cold War era pact banning such weapons.
Cook reported from Brussels. Darlene Superville in Washington contributed.
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