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2 Feb, 2022 08:05

US & NATO security responses to Russia leaked to media

Western countries have refused concessions amid a tense standoff with Russia, newspaper claims
US & NATO security responses to Russia leaked to media

Washington and NATO have formally rejected Russia's key demands for assurances that the US-led military bloc will not expand closer towards its borders, leaked correspondence reportedly shows.

According to documents seen by Spanish daily El Pais and published on Wednesday morning, Moscow's calls for a written guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted as a member of NATO were dismissed following several rounds of talks between Russian and Western diplomats.

However, officials say in the response, they remain open to dialogue and have offered some areas of possible cooperation. The written reply to Moscow’s December proposals largely mirror what Western officials have said publicly during the tense standoff in Europe.

NATO blamed Russia for a “substantial, unprovoked, unjustified, and ongoing” military buildup in and around Ukraine and in Belarus. The bloc reiterated its support for “the right of other states to choose or change security arrangements,” rebuking Russia’s demand that it accept neither Ukraine nor any new members.

The US-led bloc denied that it posed a threat to Russia and argued that it had “extended the hand of friendship,” offering Moscow dialogue after the Cold War ended in the early 1990s.

No other partner has been offered a comparable relationship or a similar institutional framework. Yet Russia has broken the trust at the core of our cooperation and challenged the fundamental principles of the global and Euro-Atlantic security architecture.

“The reversal of Russia’s military buildup in and around Ukraine will be essential for substantive progress,” NATO wrote.

For its part, the bloc offered general transparency and confidence-building measures, such as exchanging briefings on each other’s military exercises, consultations, setting up a civilian hotline, and reestablishing respective missions in Moscow and Brussels.

The US similarly rejected the demand that NATO does not expand even closer to Russia’s borders. “The United States continues to firmly support NATO’s Open Door Policy,” the written response said.

Washington said it was ready to discuss “reciprocal commitments by both the United States and Russia to refrain from deploying offensive ground-based missile systems and permanent forces with a combat mission on the territory of Ukraine.”

As for the US and NATO forces in Eastern Europe, their current deployment was “limited, proportionate, and in full compliance with commitments under the NATO-Russia Founding Act,” the document claimed, adding that the allies will “strengthen our defensive posture” if Russia attacks Ukraine or increases its own “force posture.”

Mirroring NATO’s response, the US wrote that progress in dialogue can only be achieved “in an environment of de-escalation with respect to Russia’s threatening actions towards Ukraine.”

The US said it was ready to continue discussions on strategic arms control with Moscow, including limits on the deployment of ballistic missiles and nuclear-equipped bombers.

When asked about the leak, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that he would not comment on the matter, as Moscow had nothing to do with the responses’ publication.

RT has sent requests to NATO and the US State Department for confirmation of the report and its contents, but has not yet received a response.

Russia has denied plans to attack Ukraine and repeatedly stated that it views the West’s military infrastructure along its borders as a threat. In December, Moscow proposed that the US and NATO sign legally binding treaties on the matter.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that written responses sent to Moscow have shown Washington’s disregard for Russia’s “fundamental” security concerns. Similar remarks regarding the Western stance were made earlier by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.