Kyiv: Russia has demanded that the United States and its allies halt all military activity in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in a sweeping proposal that would establish a Cold War-like security arrangement, posing a challenge to diplomatic efforts to defuse Russia’s growing military threat to Ukraine.
The Russian proposal — immediately dismissed by NATO officials — came in the form of a draft treaty suggesting NATO should offer written guarantees that it would not expand farther east toward Russia and halt all military activities in the former Soviet republics, a vast swath of now-independent states extending from Eastern Europe to Central Asia.
The proposals codified a series of demands floated in various forms in recent weeks by Russian officials, including by President Vladimir Putin in a video call with President Joe Biden.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, laid out details about the proposal in public for the first time on Friday in a video news conference in Moscow, amid a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine’s border that Western officials have interpreted as a threat of an invasion.
NATO officials said Friday that Russia’s proposals were unacceptable in their demands for veto power over now-independent countries. They emphasised their openness to a diplomatic dialogue on Russia’s security concerns but said that any discussion would also include NATO’s security concerns about Russian missile deployments, satellite tests and disinformation efforts.
The officials also suggested that if Russia did make a major new military incursion into Ukraine, as it seems to be planning, NATO would strongly consider moving more troops into allied countries bordering Ukraine because the “strategic depth” against Russia that Ukraine now provides would be damaged or lost.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said in Washington on Friday that while the Russians had a list of security concerns, so did the United States and its European allies, and that Washington was willing to negotiate on that basis.
“We’ve had a dialogue with Russia on European security issues for the last 20 years,” Sullivan told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.