Russia – It sent an ultimatum to the US and NATO and the controversy continues


In the past, Russia has made clear what the “red lines” are for it in Europe, in relation to the presence of the US and NATO.

In essence, it has reasserted its own philosophy of collective security in Europe and the world, which is based on maintaining balance, accepting the boundaries of any formation and avoiding aggressive action.

Especially for Europe this specializes in a set of Russian positions on how the escalation of the new Cold War can be avoided.

These include the commitment that there will be no further NATO expansion, the avoidance of deploying offensive weapons near the border, and the overall recognition that Russia will not have direct pressure on its borders.

This practically means that Ukraine, like Georgia, will not join NATO and NATO forces will not develop further east.

The Russian proposals

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry released two textual proposals for treaties.

The first is a proposed treaty between Russia and the United States on security guarantees.

The draft restores the principle of “indivisible security” – derived from the Helsinki Final Act – and proposes a mutual commitment not to prepare for an attack. The United States is urged to pledge that there will be no further eastward expansion of NATO and that it will not accept other members that were formerly part of the USSR, as well as to pledge not to establish bases in countries that were part of the USSR and are not members of the USSR. NATO.

The treaty also proposes a mutual commitment to avoid heavy bomber flights (with or without nuclear weapons) and to develop dialogue channels to avoid dangerous military activities. It also proposes to avoid the installation of medium- or short-range missiles outside their national borders or at points from which they can strike the other side, as well as in relation to nuclear weapons, where the draft proposes an agreement that there will be no infrastructure for use. and that the United States and Russia will not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons, nor will they conduct exercises involving nuclear scenarios with them.

The second draft concerns a treaty between the Russian Federation and NATO members. This treaty includes provisions for dialogue and conciliation on issues such as military exercises. Proposes the commitment that Russia and all NATO member states on 27 May 1997 (when the NATO-Russia Summit was held and mutual cooperation between the two sides was decided) will not develop additional forces and armaments in countries beyond that May 27, 1997. further proposes the non-expansion of NATO, the avoidance of the deployment of medium- and short-range missiles and the commitment of NATO member states not to conduct exercises in Ukraine as in South Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as a commitment that all sides will not conduct larger brigade formation exercises in areas close to the border.

The western reaction

The reaction from NATO was to reject the proposals, although the White House was more cautious with Jake Sullivan, Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, saying that as Russia has security concerns, so have and the US and its allies and that Washington is willing to engage in dialogue.

Of course, all this was combined with various statements and “leaks” that the US and NATO consider it a self-evident right of each country to choose which alliance it will belong to, along with, of course, the condemnation of Russian moves in Ukraine.

Interestingly, however, with regard to Ukraine and a possible Russian offensive move, NATO sources said that because this would reduce the strategic depth against Ukraine offered by Ukraine, the answer would be to move more troops to neighboring NATO countries. with Ukraine, such as Poland and the Baltic countries.

What is Russia aiming for?

Russia knows that these demands will obviously not be automatically accepted. At the same time, it essentially wants to show that Europe could return to the situation of the 1990s, when the assurances repeatedly given by the US to Gorbachev and the USSR government in 1990 that there would be no NATO expansion to the east.

For Russia, a return to this sense of balance and respect for security concerns is the way to a new security treaty in Europe.

At the same time, Russia knows that it is difficult for the United States and NATO to directly accept the terms of such conditions. Especially in the way that they have created an entire climate for the need for NATO to be the answer to the alleged Russian aggression and have made the Ukrainian issue a central issue.

But at the same time, Russia is realizing that at the moment neither the US nor NATO can take military action to defend the Kiev government’s policy.

This has to do both with the fear of a more total outbreak and with the fact that Russia currently has a real military advantage in Europe in the event of a conventional military conflict.

In addition, the United States and its allies realize that any attempt by Kiev to change things militarily in relation to the eastern provinces or Crimea will trigger a overwhelming Russian military response, at a time when Russia will impose the most severe sanctions on Russia. they will not undo the accomplished event in the field itself.

Russia obviously does not generally seek confrontation at this stage either. Even if it knows that it has the potential to quickly win a conflict with the Kiev government and even though it is already preparing for possible heavier financial sanctions (even for expulsion from the SWIFT system), when it upgrades cooperation with China, it nevertheless knows that all this has a cost.

But it is clear that Moscow wants to negotiate with the United States, making it clear that it can withstand the conflict and is ready for it, putting pressure on the United States to respond if and in what direction it is willing to discuss moves that to allay Russian concerns.  

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