US Response to Russia Stand Firm on Who Can Join NATO

BRUSSELS – The United States has offered to provide more transparency about missile deployments in Eastern Europe to meet Russia’s security requirements, but it rejected Moscow’s insistence that NATO guarantees it will not ever expanded to countries near Russia, including Ukraine, Sweden and Finland.

The offer was incorporated into the US response to Russia’s request for security guarantees in Eastern Europe that the US and NATO gave Moscow last week, as concerns escalate in the West. massive accumulation of Russian troops around Ukraine from both Russia and Belarus.

The US and NATO responses were obtained and published by El País, the Spanish daily, on Wednesday and confirmed to The New York Times by a senior European official. At Wednesday’s briefing, John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, also confirmed the documents.

Mr. Kirby said: “I note that in the past few hours a US proposal has been leaked in a European newspaper. “We didn’t make this document public, but now it confirms to the world what we said.”

The joint US and NATO reactions are already known from the public statements of both the West and Russia. The disclosure of documents provides a deeper level of detail.

“We never comment on alleged leaks,” a NATO official said.

Moscow issued its security requirements in mid-December, when the West warned of a potential invasion of Ukraine. Among the most controversial are Russia’s insistence that Ukraine should never be allowed to join NATO, and the West’s shrinking of its military presence to mid-1990s levels. The US and NATO, launched last week, denied those claims.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said in Moscow on Tuesday that his government is still “thoroughly analyzing” the responses, but his most pressing requests have been ignored. He described the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO as a fundamental threat not only to Russia but also to world peace.

If Ukraine fully aligned itself with the West and acquired NATO weapons, he suggested, it could start a war against Russia to retake Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, a move that did not recognized by the international community. According to him, that could lead to war between Russia and NATO.

Putin, who has bolstered new troops along the Ukrainian border, has frequently expressed concern that NATO’s Aegis missile defense systems in Romania and Poland could also fire offensive Tomahawk cruise missiles Russia. NATO and Washington emphasize that these systems are defensive in nature and are not intended against Russia but against other potential adversaries, such as Iran.

In its response, the Biden administration proposed a reciprocal “transparency mechanism” by which Russia could verify the absence of strike missiles at sites in Romania and Poland, during when the United States will do so at two missile launch bases of its choice in the Russian Territory; one would likely include Kaliningrad, the part of Russia that borders two Eastern European NATO members, Lithuania and Poland.

Moscow has placed intermediate-range missiles in Kaliningrad that can be fired with both nuclear and conventional warheads, one reason the United States and its allies abandoned the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF . Treatyin 2019.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Wednesday endorsed another US proposal to help defuse the crisis: an assurance that the country would not deploy offensive missiles or base it permanently on land in Ukraine. The proposal was presented to Russia in the context of consultations with the Ukrainian government.

The United States and its 29 NATO allies have no troops or combat missiles in Ukraine and have said for months that they have no intention of deploying offensive military capabilities to the country – or fighting against Russia. , as Ukraine is not a member of the alliance and therefore does not enjoy the collective defense commitment.

However, in 2008, NATO promised that Ukraine and Georgia might one day join NATO, a pledge that Mr. Putin is angry, with the goal of maintaining Russia’s sphere of influence in the region. The Russian president has been trying to ensure the door has remained closed ever since, something the US has refused to consider.

However, the suggestion to rule out future US deployments addressed a concern Mr. Putin has repeatedly raised in recent months as his troops massed troops near the Ukrainian border: that if Ukraine joined the alliance, short-range missiles could reach Moscow. in flight time of only a few minutes.

But that was not an obvious concession to Russia. The proposal calls for reciprocal commitments by both Russia and the United States to refrain from deploying missiles or troops in Ukraine.

“I would like to note that while the United States does not have missiles and combat units in Ukraine, Russia has both,” Kuleba said in a video call with foreign journalists. “And if this proposal is accepted on a reciprocal basis, that means Russia has to withdraw. So no, we have no objection.”

The United States also proposes to negotiate with Moscow on various other arms control measures, which have been publicly announced in Washington in the past. These included a quick attempt to create a treaty to replace current New START treaty restrictions on intercontinental-range missiles, and negotiations to increase transparency about military exercises and reduce the risk of accidental conflict.

The United States is also set to discuss another Russian concern, called the “indivisibility of security.” That commitment refers to the idea that states should not seek to enhance their own security at the expense of another country’s security.

Russia insists that Ukraine becoming the last member of NATO will adversely affect its security. The US said it disagreed but would be willing to discuss the issue.

But Washington rejects the idea of ​​any restriction on the right of any sovereign state, anywhere, to “choose or change its security arrangements, including alliance treaty”.

Both Washington and NATO also rejected Russia’s request that they negotiate separate treaties with Moscow that would require them to remove all troops and equipment from NATO member states bordering Russia, including Poland and the Baltic States.

Instead, Washington asserts that NATO’s reinforced forward battalions in Poland and the Baltic states, formed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and backing separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, are not ” long”, since they alternate. It also says that the total number of about 5,000 troops is not a “significant combat force”, according to the 1997 NATO-Russia Creation Act.

Instead, the documents say that “further Russian reinforcement to position itself or further aggression against Ukraine will force the United States and our Allies to strengthen their defensive posture.”

The documents provided to Moscow by the United States and NATO have a relatively general tone and do not attempt to draft the language of the treaty. Instead, they set off for Russia, where the United States and NATO are set to enter talks once Russia de-escalates around Ukraine.

The texts describe in more detail the messages that Western leaders have conveyed publicly to the Kremlin. The United States and NATO coordinated their responses, with US officials saying that every point concerning other governments including Ukraine was discussed with them.

El País did not describe how it obtained the material; Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov said on Wednesday that Russian authorities had not released them.

Steven Erlanger reports from Brussels and Andrew E. Kramer from Kyiv, Ukraine. Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington, DC

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