Moscow gets ‘written response’ it demanded from US and NATO
The United States and NATO have replied in writing to Russia for “security guarantees” that the Kremlin put forward in December.
NV has condensed the key points from the Jan. 26 press briefings by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
While Russian demands regarding a NATO rollback in Eastern Europe and barring Ukraine from ever joining the alliance were rejected, the West is willing to engage with Moscow on issues of mutual arms control and trust building.
Blinken’s key points:
Washington remains committed to the principle of countries freely choosing their allies and associations and to NATO’s “open door” policy on new members.
The U.S. response includes concerns the United States and its allies have about Russian actions that jeopardize international security, as well as a series of proposals for Moscow that the sides could conceivably agree on.
These include increased transparency around military exercises in Europe, and arms controls provisions. In particular, the White House is interested in a new strategic arms reduction treaty.
The Unites States consulted its European partners and Ukraine when composing the response to the Russians.
Blinken said he hopes to discuss the next steps with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the near future, once Moscow has assessed the message from Washington.
U.S. President Joe Biden participated in crafting the written response to Moscow’s demands.
The United States has declined to publish the response, saying “diplomacy is more likely to succeed if the negotiations are confidential.”
Blinken hopes Russia will agree and seriously consider the U.S. proposals.
Meanwhile, Ukraine will soon receive another installment of U.S. military aid, he said.
While committed to a diplomatic resolution of the ingoing crisis, the United States is prepared for any eventuality surrounding Ukraine, he added.
Stoltenberg’s key points:
Russia must withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and refrain from aggressive rhetoric and actions. All sides should aim for constructive cooperation, including in the Normandy Four format of diplomatic talks between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.
NATO urges Russia to pivot towards de-escalation, and forego intimidation tactics in favor of diplomacy.
The alliance will not compromise its core principles, such as the “open door” policy on new members, and respects the membership aspirations of Ukraine and Georgia. NATO will consult with its member states, and Ukraine, about any talks it may have about Ukraine.
The NATO proposals for Russia were agreed upon by all 30 alliance members.
The alliance is prepared to engage with Moscow on topics of European security, despite fundamentally divergent points of view. Stoltenberg suggested re-establishing a direct line communication between NATO’s HQ and Russia by exchanging representatives.
Stoltenberg said that meetings of the Russia-NATO council could be used to discuss questions of cybersecurity, security in space, air and naval security, and non-proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. He also called for serious diplomatic efforts around arms controls.
The alliance is preparing for a worst-case scenario and is taking necessary precautions. A 5,000-strong NATO rapid response force in Europe could be deployed within days, Stoltenberg said.
On Dec. 17, Russia issued demands for what it called “security guarantees” from the United States and NATO, including that Ukraine be forbidden from ever becoming a member of the alliance; all against the backdrop of a continuous buildup of Russian troops close to the Ukrainian border.
The United States and Russia held a round of crisis talks in Geneva, Switzerland on Jan. 10, kicking off a week of high-level negotiations.
Following his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Blinken said the United States was ready to keep talking with Moscow, but would respond harshly to any further Russian offensive against Ukraine. The secretary reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defending the right of Ukrainians to choose their own future.
While Russia has denied plans to invade, it has also refused to provide assurances that it would not do so, instead issuing its demand for so-called “security guarantees” to the United States and NATO.
Since the end of Oct. 2021, Russia has been massing troops close to the Ukrainian borders. Russia has since deployed more than 127,000 troops and offensive weapons near the Ukrainian border and in temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine provided to CNN on Jan. 18.
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