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23 Dec, 2022 10:24

Russia outlines conditions for launching talks on security guarantees

Certain criteria need to be met by the US to provide ground for such negotiations, a top foreign ministry official says
Russia outlines conditions for launching talks on security guarantees

The US needs to stop arming Kiev and recognize reality on the ground in Ukraine for any talks on security guarantees between Moscow and Washington to begin, Alexander Darchiyev, who heads the North America department in the Russian Foreign Ministry, has said.

“Until the pumping of Zelensky’s regime with weapons and money is stopped, the US and NATO troops/mercenaries/trainers are withdrawn [from Ukraine], and the realities defined by us [Russia] on the ground are recognized, it’s premature to start any meaningful negotiations on security guarantees in connection to Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic region,” Darchiyev pointed out, in an interview with news agency TASS.

“The ball is now in the American court,” he insisted. Washington has been Ukraine’s main backer during the conflict with Russia, providing Kiev with billions in military and financial aid, as well as with intelligence. Russia has been saying that a “proxy war” is actually being waged against it in the neighboring country by the US and NATO.

During Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s recent visit to the US, his American counterpart Joe Biden assured him that “we will stay with you for as long as it takes.” According to Biden, it was especially crucial for Washington and Kiev to “stand together through 2023.”

Darchiyev reminded his interviewer that, in late 2021 shortly before the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict, Moscow has made “an honest attempt to negotiate, putting forward two draft, legally binding documents” on security guarantees with the US and NATO. But all it heard in response from the West was “a resounding and arrogant No,” he said.

Last December, Russia presented a list of security demands to Washington and NATO, asking the West to impose a ban on Ukraine becoming a member of the US-led military bloc, while insisting that NATO should retreat to its borders of 1997, before it began to expand eastward.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron said that West would have to address Moscow’s “fear that NATO comes right up to its doors and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia.” The US and allies also must decide on “how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table,” he also pointed out.

The comment was met with harsh criticism, not only from Kiev but also from fellow EU and NATO members, including Poland, Slovakia, and the Baltic states. However, Macron doubled down on the idea this week, saying that the crisis in Ukraine will inevitably be resolved at the negotiating table, and that the West and NATO, in particular, will have to come up with security guarantees not only for Kiev, but for Moscow as well.