Irina Taran, Elizaveta Komarova
The North Atlantic Alliance is ready for negotiations aimed at restoring “certain restrictions on missiles”, provided that such measures are “reciprocal, balanced and verifiable,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He also added that “specific numbers” should not be discussed publicly, “as this would only” undermine the chances of a positive outcome. ” At the same time, Moscow stressed that the topic of non-deployment of strike weapons near the Russian borders should not be considered in dialogue with the West in isolation from the main requirement – non-expansion of NATO to the east. According to experts, the United States and the alliance “recognize the superiority of Russia” in missile equipment, and therefore indicated their readiness to conduct a dialogue on restrictions in this area.
The North Atlantic Alliance is ready for a dialogue with Russia on the limitations of missile weapons, but “specific numbers” should not be discussed publicly, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We are ready for negotiations aimed at restoring certain restrictions on missiles, provided that such restrictions are reciprocal, balanced and verifiable. Specific figures, the scale and scope of restrictions and the procedure for their establishment are the subject of diplomatic negotiations, which should not be discussed publicly, as this will only undermine the chances of a positive outcome, ”he said at a press conference.
Stoltenberg also stressed that the United States and Russia are conducting “important bilateral negotiations on strategic weapons.”
“We have clearly stated our readiness to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss various restrictions at different levels, provided that they are balanced and verifiable. We had an agreement not only on the limitation, but also on a complete ban (on the deployment. – RT ) of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, which are of particular concern in Europe, “the NATO secretary general said.
He added that the alliance regrets Russia’s violation of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), because, according to Stoltenberg, this “led to the collapse” of the entire agreement.
Recall that in August 2019, the INF Treaty officially ceased to operate on the initiative of the American side. Washington claimed that the Russian 9M729 missile allegedly violated the terms of the agreement, after which Moscow showed documentation confirming the compliance of the missile with the INF Treaty, but the United States ignored this.
At the same time, Russia has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the United States itself has violated the INF Treaty since 1999, testing combat drones with characteristics similar to prohibited weapons, target missiles, including ballistic ones. In addition, the Russian Federation reported that the United States began production of intermediate and shorter-range missiles two years before it began publicly accusing Moscow of violating the INF Treaty.
As Vladimir Putin noted, the Russian side will not deploy intermediate or shorter-range missiles in any region of the world until the United States begins to do so.
In addition, in 2019, Moscow proposed to the United States and NATO, by analogy with the Russian Federation, to declare a moratorium on the deployment of the INF Treaty.
However, in October 2020, the State Department reported that the United States intends to develop and deploy its own intermediate and shorter-range missiles, ostensibly in response to the presence of many such systems in China’s arsenal. And in June 2021, at the NATO summit, Moscow’s proposal for a moratorium was called “untrustworthy.”
In October last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Russia is concerned about the US plans to deploy the INF Treaty. According to him, this will largely upset strategic stability and balance, “which more or less exists.”
At the same time, Lavrov confirmed Moscow’s proposal for a moratorium and called it sad that Western colleagues are not ready to take this step or negotiate on this issue.
Russia returned to the issue of deploying ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles in its proposals for security assurances handed over to the United States and NATO in December 2021. Thus, the draft agreement on security measures for the Russian Federation and the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance emphasizes that the parties exclude the deployment of such weapons in areas “from which they are capable of hitting targets on the territory of other participants.” The same document refers to the alliance’s commitment to non-expansion.
The clause on ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles is also contained in the agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States on security guarantees. It says that the parties undertake not to deploy such weapons “outside the national territory, as well as in those areas of their national territory, from which such weapons are capable of hitting targets on the national territory of the other side.” The document assumes that the United States pledges to exclude further NATO expansion eastward.
Russia discussed proposals of the Russian Federation on security guarantees with the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance, including in the OSCE. Negotiations with Washington were held on January 10 in Geneva. As a result, Moscow said that they did not see “a significant reason for optimism” in the past discussion, stressing that the Russian Federation “is important about the result,” and not “process for the sake of process.”
For her part, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who led the US delegation in Geneva, said Washington was open to “discussing the future of certain missile systems in Europe” – similar to what the now defunct INF Treaty between the United States and Russia envisaged.
NATO talks were held in Brussels on 12 January. As a result, Jens Stoltenberg said that the allies in the bloc “are interested in looking for opportunities to develop civil and military channels of communication, as well as in the prospect of restoring the work of missions in Moscow and Brussels.”
At the same time, Russ-ian Deputy Foreign Minis-ter Alexander Grushko noted that the arms control system has completely degraded and this happened through the fault of the United States. According to him, Russia expects NATO to accept Russia’s proposals on security guarantees or explain why they are unacceptable. As Grushko emphasized, the possibility of an escalation of the situation between Moscow and NATO has already reached the edge.
On January 13, a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council took place. As the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to this organization, Alexander Lukashevich, stated, Russia did not hear from its Western colleagues “an adequate answer or some kind of reaction” to the proposals on security guarantees. This situation, according to him, already leads to the fact that the Russian Federation will not lead “round dances”, but will wait for a reaction from partners “in a short time.”
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized that the topic of non-deployment of strike weapons near Russian borders should not be considered in dialogue with the West in isolation from the main requirement – non-expansion of NATO to the east, since then “it will hardly be of significant importance.”
At the same time, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has already stated that the North Atlantic Alliance will not abandon the open door policy, despite the conditions of the Russian side.
“Only in the complex”
Pavel Feldman, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of RUDN University, in an interview with RT, drew attention to the fact that the United States and NATO are ready to agree on the limitations of missile weapons, since they “recognize Russia’s superiority” in this area.
“The United States enters into dialogue only when it suits them. If the Americans began, on their own initiative, a conversation with Russia about strategic deterrence in this military sphere, this means that they recognize that the Russian Federation has a gigantic missile potential and perceive it as a possible worthy response to their hypothetical unfriendly actions against it, “Feldman explained. …
The United States does not have the tools to restr-ain the military developme-nt of the Russian Federa-tion in the missile sphere, and therefore they are for-ced to enter into the negotiation process in this direction, the analyst added.
As for the next NATO claims against Moscow regarding the INF Treaty, then, according to Feldman, they are due to the reasons for the image sense.
“The US just has to blame someone for the collapse of the agreement. Even the Democratic administration of Joe Biden does not want to admit that the termination of the treaty was a mistake of Republican Trump, ”the expert noted.
At the same time, Feldman believes that all parties to the negotiation process – both Russia and NATO – are interested in reaching a consensus on the issue of non-deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles.
“This is the direction in which reaching agreement is realistic, but not in isolation from the provision on non-expansion of NATO,” the analyst believes.
Vasily Kashin, a military expert and senior research fellow at the Higher School of Economics, also believes that the topic of restrictions in the field of missile weapons “cannot be discussed” in isolation from other Russian proposals.
“If the West takes into account the position of Moscow, then the parties can begin effective negotiations on restrictive measures. This is the question on which it will really be possible to agree. But a compromise will be found only in conjunction with a satisfactory result of discussions on other proposals of the Russian Federation, “Kashin said in a comment to RT.
From Kashin’s point of view, Russia and the West may preliminarily discuss the issue of limiting missile weapons, but if no agreement is reached on other security guarantees, this will lead nowhere.
“The Russian Federation and its Western partners can only come to some kind of theoretical agreements, however, if NATO does not refuse to expand, including to the east, all this loses all meaning,” the expert concluded.