Russia asks NATO to withdraw pledge to admit Ukraine, Georgia

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Russia has called on NATO to withdraw its 2008 pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia into future security talks which Washington hopes will deter Moscow from invading its southern neighbor.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday released a list of proposed agreements that offer the most detailed glimpse to date of the “red lines” Vladimir Putin wants to form the basis of a new European security order.

US President Joe Biden agreed to discuss Putin’s grievances with the transatlantic military alliance along with a group of NATO members following a video call between the two leaders on Tuesday.

The United States has warned its allies that Putin has massed up to 175,000 troops at Ukraine’s northern, eastern and southern borders in preparation for a possible invasion which officials say may be the bloodiest conflict in the world. Europe since World War II.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow’s relations with the West were at a “critical juncture”, accusing the US and the EU of staging “provocative” military exercises near the Russian border and to supply equipment to the Ukrainian army.

He also accused the West of “dragging Ukraine into NATO,” which he said could result in the deployment of missile and troop systems that could be used to attack Russia from Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made securing an action plan for NATO membership the cornerstone of his foreign policy.

The then NATO secretary general said in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would someday become members, but the alliance never specified a timeline and did not engage either country in its process. formal membership.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it wanted legal guarantees that the commitment was no longer in effect, as well as other agreements that NATO would not deploy weapons in countries bordering Russia. , organize military exercises beyond a certain distance from Russia and set maximum approach distances for ships. in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

He also called on the United States to re-enact the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War deal banning land-based missiles with a range of 500 km to 5,500 km that the Trump administration withdrew in 2019. .

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, dismissed Putin’s demands on Friday as not surprising. “This is the same list of demands that the Russians have been defending and expressing for several months, if not years, and it is their prerogative,” she said.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said Biden “clearly and directly… Has made no such commitment or concession” regarding Ukraine’s exclusion from NATO during his discussion earlier this week with Putin.

“He supports the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose who to partner with,” Sullivan said.

Senior US officials also said Biden made it “very clear” that one nation cannot force another nation to change its border.

“[One] one nation cannot tell another to change its policy, and nations cannot tell others who they can work with, ”a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday, after Biden spoke with Zelensky and, separately, nine NATO allies along its eastern flank.

The US administration, however, has said it is “always” ready to discuss all security issues with Russia, and cited many of the formats that exist to do so.

A NATO spokesperson referred to previous comments by its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “We stand by our decisions and nothing has changed with regard to NATO’s approach to l ‘Ukraine’s accession,’ the alliance leader in Paris said on Friday. “It’s up to Ukraine to decide its own path, to decide whether or not it wants to aspire to membership. . . And then it’s up to the 30 Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready to join the Alliance. Nobody else.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told a press conference on Friday that Moscow did not expect the United States to immediately accept his demands, but warned of the consequences if they did. were ignored.

“If our adversaries on the other side – in the first place the United States, but also other countries, allies, the so-called allies of the United States – refuse, try to torpedo everything, they will inevitably encounter a new worsening of their own security situation, ”Ryabkov said.

Russia and the United States will discuss some of the proposals as part of an ongoing strategic security dialogue on nuclear weapons, Ryabkov said.

“We must avoid another missile crisis in Europe before it is too late,” he added.

Additional reporting by Katrina Manson in Washington and Henry Foy in Brussels


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