Russia drafts pact to limit U.S., NATO role in ex-Soviet nations

It demands a ban on new membership to the alliance, limit on missile deployment

December 17, 2021 10:03 pm | Updated 10:08 pm IST - Moscow

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “we are ready to immediately, even tomorrow — literally tomorrow, on Saturday — to go for talks with the U.S. in a third country.” File

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “we are ready to immediately, even tomorrow — literally tomorrow, on Saturday — to go for talks with the U.S. in a third country.” File

Russia on Friday published security proposals addressed to NATO and the United States and called for urgent talks with Washington as tensions between Moscow and Western capitals soar over the conflict in Ukraine.

The far-reaching proposals, which Russia says are vital for its security, say NATO must not allow any new members to the U.S.-led military alliance and call for no new military bases to be established in ex-Soviet countries.

At a briefing with journalists following the publication of the drafts, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia was ready to hold urgent security talks with the United States “as early as” Saturday.

“We are ready to immediately, even tomorrow — literally tomorrow, on Saturday — to go for talks with the U.S. in a third country,” he said, noting that “Geneva was suggested to the Americans”.

The publication of the draft agreements — an unusual step in international diplomacy — comes at a tense moment in Russia’s ties with the West, particularly over the war in eastern Ukraine.

The West has accused Moscow of preparing an imminent invasion, claiming Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies planning an attack and blames NATO for the rise in tensions, demanding “legal guarantees” the alliance won’t expand eastwards.

Russia’s document addressed to NATO says Moscow and the alliance should work to “prevent incidents” in the Baltics and the Black Sea region and said a telephone hotline should be established for “emergency contacts”.

It called for limits on the deployment of missiles and said that NATO members should “commit themselves to refrain from further enlargement” of the group.

The draft of a security treaty addressed to the United States meanwhile said Washington should block NATO membership of any former Soviet country.

The clause comes in the wake of Russia’s demands that NATO withdraw a commitment to hand membership to ex-Soviet Georgia and Ukraine.

The U.S. pushed back at the Russian proposals, saying it would not negotiate without Europe’s input.

“There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on board Air Force One.

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