Kremlin identifies ‘red line’ in NATO-Russia relations
NATO’s “gradual invasion” into Ukraine has brought the US-led bloc right up to Moscow’s “red line,” the Kremlin has told CNN. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says the situation poses an imminent threat to European security.
In an interview aired on Sunday, Dmitry Peskov cited documented Western promises, which, he noted, have never been “fixed in a legally binding way,” that NATO would not expand further eastwards into the former Soviet bloc. In contrast to these pledges, over the past few years, NATO has used its ‘open door policy’ to absorb several former Warsaw Pact countries.
Moscow has drawn the line at Ukraine, Peskov told the American broadcaster.
“First, there were just words but with time we have seen the gradual invasion of NATO into Ukrainian territory, with its infrastructure, with its instructors, with supplies of defensive and offensive weapons, teaching [the] Ukrainian military and so on,” Peskov said.
Putin's long time spokesman went on to say that these moves have brought NATO directly “to the red line,” creating a situation which constitutes a “real threat” both for Russia and for the whole “European [security] architecture.” Russia has a 3,000-km border with Ukraine, which, until the Ukrainian war broke out in 2014, was almost completely unfortified.
These circumstances, which Moscow “couldn’t tolerate anymore,” prompted Putin's team to come up with a set of proposals to improve collective security, Peskov said.
The proposals include guarantees that NATO will not expand eastwards and that no former Soviet country bordering Russia would be permitted to join the alliance. The US, as well as NATO – which Peskov called “a weapon of confrontation” on Sunday – have already rejected these particular proposals. Unless a compromise is found, Peskov said tensions will only escalate further.
Peskov also said during the interview that Moscow “will be ready to take counter-actions” should NATO deployments to Ukraine continue, though he stressed that this does not mean all-out military action.
At the start of the interview, Zakaria told Peskov that, according to “some people,” Russia has “created this crisis” Itself. Kiev and Washington have insisted for months that Russia has been amassing troops at the Ukrainian border, in preparation for an invasion. Moscow has repeatedly denied having plans to invade its neighbor. Peskov once again dismissed the idea on Sunday, pointing the finger at NATO instead for threatening Russia’s security over the past two decades.