Russian Foreign Ministry rules out troop withdrawal after US response on ‘security guarantees’
Russia will not withdraw troops from “certain areas” after receiving a written response to its demands for “security guarantees” from the United States, Russian media outlet RIA Novosti reported on Feb. 17, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The ministry accused the United States of not providing a constructive response to its “security guarantee” demands, saying that the United States had simply ignored Russian wording for a draft treaty and engaged in "cherry-picking points convenient for themselves."
As a result, the ministry said Russia refuses to withdraw its troops from “certain areas” of the Russian Federation. These certain areas, in all likelihood, refer to the places where the Russian military has massed on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
Russia is also demanding that the United States stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, recall its instructors, and refrain from conducting NATO military exercises in the country. At the same time, the Russian side once again accused Ukraine of alleged non-compliance with the Minsk agreements.
“Russia, in response, insists on the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and weapons from Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic states,” the message reads – a demand that would see NATO member states, such as Poland, Lithuania, and others, left without material NATO support.
The Kremlin also expects specific proposals on how the alliance would cement Russia’s wished-for refusal to expand eastwards.
However, NATO and member state officials have repeatedly stressed that NATO’s “open door” policy will not be changed, nor will NATO refuse to consider nations geographically close to Russia for membership.
Later, U.S. TV news channel CNN, citing a senior U.S. State Department official, reported that the U.S. side had received a response from Russia on “security guarantees.”
“We can confirm that we have received a response from the Russian Federation. It was delivered to Ambassador Sullivan in Moscow today,” the official said.
Not long after delivering this response, Russia expelled the Deputy Ambassador of the United States to Russia, Bartle Gorman, from Moscow.
On Jan. 26, the United States and NATO sent Russia written responses regarding Russian so-called "security guarantees,” which, among other requests, demanded that NATO pre-emptively promise to never consider a Ukrainian bid for NATO membership.
The U.S. response was coordinated with the Ukrainian side before it was sent to Moscow, and Kyiv registered no objections.
It was conveyed to Russia that its demands for the withdrawal of NATO troops and weapons from Eastern Europe and for Ukraine not to join the alliance are unacceptable. At the same time, the United States and the alliance are ready to discuss other issues with the Russian Federation – arms control and trust-building measures.
After talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Jan. 26, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States was ready for dialogue with Moscow, but that the response to Russian aggression would be “high-impact, quick-action.” The Secretary of State also maintained that the United States is ready to defend the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, commenting on the demands of the Russian Federation, said that the alliance is ready for negotiations with Moscow, but would not compromise on core principles.
Amid the amassing of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to give guarantees of non-aggression against Ukraine and said that the Kremlin's actions would depend on "security guarantees."
Since the end of October 2021, Russia has been drawing troops to the Ukrainian border. According to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, there are currently about 140,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
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