Russia sets out tough demands for security pact with Nato

Published December 18, 2021
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. — Reuters/File
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. — Reuters/File

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday published draft security demands that Nato deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe, bold ultimatums that are almost certain to be rejected by the US and its allies.

The proposals, which were submitted to the US and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending US and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, along with a halt to Nato military drills near Russia.

The demand for a written guarantee that Ukraine won’t be offered membership already has been rejected by the West, which said Moscow doesn’t have a say in Nato’s enlargement.

The Nato secretary-general responded on Friday by emphasizing that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account Nato concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House similarly said its discussing the proposals with US allies and partners, but notes that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.

The publication of the demands contained in a proposed Russia-US security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and Nato comes amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine that has raised fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied it has plans to attack its neighbour, but is seeking legal guarantees precluding Nato expansion and deploying weapons there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia’s relations with the US and Nato have approached a dangerous point, noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised unacceptable threats to its security.

Moscow wants the US to start talks immediately 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 would also need to address Nato’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on core principles and documents of European security, and take place in consultation with Nato’s European partners, such as Ukraine.

He added that the 30 Nato countries have made clear that should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence building measures.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2021

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