Russia submitted two documents last week to the United States as an offer of long-term security guarantees – a draft US-Russia treaty and an agreement with NATO. They are written in a language that borders on ultimatum.
That’s according to Moscow’s leading foreign policy expert, Fyodor Lukyanov, who is considered close to the Kremlin’s worldview and is known to advise senior officials. Lukyanov believes the West is unlikely to accept Russia’s demands because doing so would be politically impossible.
The draft treaty contains an explicit demand: “The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the alliance of the states of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” It also essentially rules out any bilateral military cooperation between the US and members of the former Soviet Union which are not part of NATO.
The text of the draft agreement proposal to NATO contains an obligation on the bloc to exclude further expansion, including by the accession of Ukraine or any other states, as well as the explicit statement that NATO “shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine or other states of Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.”
There is also a separate clause that requires both sides to limit activities which could be perceived as threatening security: “The parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other party as a threat to its national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the parties.”
The latter exception means that NATO cannot conduct military activities close to Russian borders, while Russia has the right to do what it sees fit on parts of its territory that border NATO.
This reflects the stance and the demands that Russia has been voicing for years, but more insistently so in the past few weeks. The question is: Why would you propose a draft like that? It’s hard to imagine it could even launch a dialogue with the Western counterparts, let alone be adopted.
From the US and NATO’s perspective, that would mean capitulating to Moscow, which is politically unacceptable. Moreover, Washington and the EU countries see no reason why they should agree to overhaul the post-Cold War European security system. To put it simply, there is no real threat, and Moscow probably understands that. So maybe they expect the West to publicly refuse, and later say that the offer was on the table and they didn’t take it. In other words, this would give the Kremlin free rein when it comes to reshaping the current system.
In that case, we will see more steps meant to demonstrate Russia’s determination to change the status quo no matter what the West has to say about it. The sheer scale of the proposed changes implies that simply accepting the refusal and leaving it be until the next round of talks is not an option. That would undermine the credibility of any further statements on the subject. So the question now is, what is Russia going to do should the West shoot down this proposal?