Security proposals submitted to the US and NATO by Russia this week represent a broad deal required to defuse escalating tensions between Moscow and the military bloc, one of the country’s top diplomats explained on Friday.
“Those two texts are not a menu from which one can pick and choose this or that. They are complementary and must be considered as a whole,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists.
A pair of documents were delivered on Wednesday to Karen Donfried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in the US Department of State. They outline Russia’s position on what can be done to reduce tensions with NATO members, which have been rising for a number of years. One addresses Russian-US relations while the other is meant for the entire bloc, which is dominated by Washington.
NATO’s immediate response was to acknowledge the existence of the proposals and reiterate accusations against Moscow. Russia is conducting a “substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified” military buildup along its border with Ukraine and is making “false … claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations” the statement said.
NATO’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate concerns can only lead to further dangerous escalation, the Russian diplomat warned.
We make proposals, and get in return ultimatums. And under the cover of those ultimatums dangerous activities, which directly impact our national security interests, continue.
“We cannot tolerate this anymore,” Ryabkov pointed out.
The Russian diplomat suggested that the US and NATO should abandon the accusatory stance and start treating Moscow’s latest proposals “in a most serious manner.” The interests of both sides are in de-escalation, the official argued. He insisted it was up to the Western side to act now.
“Washington and NATO allies should stop hostile activities directed against our nation, including unannounced military exercises, dangerous approaches and maneuvers of warships and warplanes, and stop the military development of Ukrainian territory,” he said.
Despite the fact that NATO forces have been training and equipping Ukrainian troops the bloc insists that it doesn’t pose any threat to Russia.
However, the Russian official reiterated that Ukraine’s hypothetical integration into NATO – which the Russian government believes could open the door for deployment of Western attack missile systems on Ukrainian territory – was a red line for Russia.
The current escalation of the diplomatic crisis broke out after Western claims, last month, that Russia was planning a military invasion of Ukraine and was gathering troops on its western flank for that purpose. The US and the EU threatened Moscow with harsh economic sanctions.
Russia said all its military maneuvers are defensive in nature and that the only way military action would start in Ukraine was if Kiev triggered it with some deliberate provocation.