Russia issues tough security demands for US, NATO amid Ukraine tensions

Russia has unveiled proposals to contain the US and NATO in Eastern Europe, calling for urgent negotiations with Washington as it amasses forces near Ukraine.

Russia has said it wanted a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, part of a wish list of security guarantees it wants to negotiate with the West.

Moscow for the first time on Friday laid out in detail demands that it says are essential for lowering tensions in Europe and defusing a crisis over Ukraine.

The demands contain elements — such as an effective Russian veto on NATO membership for Ukraine — that the West has already ruled out.

Others would imply the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that were once in the Soviet Union.

Presenting Moscow’s demands, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia and the West must start from a clean sheet in rebuilding relations.

Ryabkov said Russia was not willing to put up with the current situation any longer, and urged Washington to come up with a constructive response fast.

NATO, US response

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO had received the documents.

Stoltenberg said dialogue “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 European partners.”

Meanwhile, a senior US official said the country is willing to discuss security proposals put forward by Russia but disagrees with parts of them and will impose “massive consequences” over any “aggression” on Ukraine.

“We are prepared to discuss them. That said, there are some things in this document that the Russians know will be unacceptable,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official said the United States expected to respond to the Russians “sometime next week with a more concrete proposal” on talks after consulting with European allies.

The official said Washington would respond some time next week with more concrete proposals on the format of any talks.

Moscow handed over its proposals as tensions rose over the Russian troop build-up near Ukraine.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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