Not to expand to the east, not to accept Ukraine, to prohibit any military activity in the countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Transcaucasus – in fact, Russia demanded that NATO and the United States return to the 1997 situation. Moscow made it clear: we need legal guarantees of security. If the problems are not solved, “the answer will be the military.”
“Now is such a risky and turning point in international relations, when these hints, some kind of admonitions, signals, winking eyes do not work, you just need to sit down and talk,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
In mid-November, Vladimir Putin spoke about guarantees, and it is precisely legal – since the West did not keep its oral promises. Speaking at the collegium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he stressed that Russia is a peaceful state, but NATO is inclined towards confrontation.
About a month later, Moscow handed over to Washington the draft “Treaty between Russia and the United States on security guarantees” and “Agreement on measures to ensure the security of Russia and the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” And the documents were immediately published, which is not in the tradition of Russian diplomacy.
Do not accept Ukraine, withdraw nuclear weapons
The first draft has eight points. At the beginning, it is noted that countries should avoid armed conflicts and confrontation, since “this may lead to the use of nuclear weapons.” Moscow proposes mutual commitments “not to harm security” by deploying armed forces on the territory of third countries. This is, first of all, about Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia.
Other points are a ban on the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles outside the national territory, a promise to refrain from flights of heavy bombers with nuclear and non-nuclear weapons.
The main thing: NATO should not expand eastward and admit countries that were part of the Soviet Union into the bloc. The Pentagon should also not create military bases in these territories and use local infrastructure.
Moscow, in addition, insists on the removal of American nuclear weapons from Europe.
In the second draft, one more point. The parties should not consider themselves adversaries and should not create situations “that could be regarded as a threat to national security.” Controversial issues should be resolved with the help of consultations. Including in the format of the Russia-NATO Council.
Some provisions only apply to the alliance. Russia asks to withdraw weapons and armed forces from the territory of the states that joined the bloc after 1997.
Moscow is expecting a response in the near future, the Foreign Ministry explained.
Russia draws new red lines
In the West, this initiative was treated differently. The USA noted that they saw the proposals and are discussing them with European partners. Bloomberg, citing a high-ranking official of the administration, Joseph Biden, reported that some of Moscow’s initiatives in the White House are considered unacceptable, and some, on the contrary, are useful. Should answer this week.
“We will not compromise on the key principles on which European security is built. All countries have the right to determine their own future and foreign policy without outside interference,” said Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the White House.
New German Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht believes that Russia has no right to tell NATO partners how to behave. Her Lithuanian counterpart, Arvydas Anushauskas, is convinced that Moscow should not be allowed to draw new red lines and “divide Europe into spheres of influence.”
The alliance secretary general adheres to a similar position.
“The idea of a conference in which we re-debate spheres of influence, within which the great powers will determine what their neighbors can and cannot do, will force us to step back. This is the wrong direction,” stressed Jens Stoltenberg. Of course, it is necessary to improve relations. “But not at the expense of our core values,” he added.
“The ultimate intentions of Russia are unclear, except that they seek to threaten and weaken Ukraine. It is unacceptable for Moscow to use the crisis to achieve its goal of changing the security structure in Europe,” said Josep Borrell, head of EU diplomacy.
“The answer will be military-technical”
The formal reason for the projects was the aggravation of the situation in Ukraine. But Russia has previously offered to discuss this at different venues. Moscow was assured that there was no intention of any attack, as the Western media were saying.
“Those who warm up this topic are trying not to avoid a conflict, but to provoke the Kiev authorities, these are rash and dangerous actions,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
However, if Washington and NATO do not provide security guarantees, this will lead to a new round of confrontation. “Our response will be military and military-technical,” Ryabkov said.
This was also confirmed in the Kremlin. According to the president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, “in such a situation, a variety of options are possible.”
It is obvious that the proposals were published immediately with the expectation of public and political resonance.
“The goal is to activate potential supporters of a constructive dialogue with Russia, to check to what extent they are ready for discussion,” says Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).
At the same time, the documents sent by the United States and NATO, although they complement each other, are still different. “We must consider each separately. Besides, we are not talking about unilateral steps, Moscow offers mutual obligations. This cannot be unambiguously called an ultimatum or a demand for surrender. Perhaps, counter initiatives have been put forward in the West,” the expert added.
In any case, Russia has demonstrated its readiness for dialogue. Now the ball is on the side of NATO and the United States.