Mon | Jul 4, 2022

Kremlin demands US, NATO response this week on Ukraine

Published:Sunday | January 16, 2022 | 12:08 AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

MOSCOW (AP):

Russia on Friday strongly reaffirmed its demand that NATO doesn’t expand eastward despite the rejection of that by the military alliance amid a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that Moscow wouldn’t wait indefinitely for the Western response, saying he expects the US and NATO to provide a written answer this week.

Lavrov described Moscow’s demands for binding guarantees that NATO will not embrace Ukraine or any other ex-Soviet nations, or station its forces and weapons there as essential for the progress of diplomatic efforts to defuse soaring tensions over Ukraine.

He argued that NATO’s deployments and drills near Russia’s borders pose a security challenge that must be addressed immediately.

“We have run out of patience,” Lavrov said at a news conference. “The West has been driven by hubris and has exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.”

Amid the tensions, Ukraine sustained a massive cyberattack Friday, which hit websites of multiple government agencies.

Last week’s negotiations in Geneva and a related NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels were held amid a significant Russian troop build-up near Ukraine that the West fears might be a prelude to an invasion.

Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, has denied having plans to attack its neighbour, but warned the West that NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations is a “red line” that mustn’t be crossed.

LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN

Washington and its allies firmly rejected Moscow’s demand for security guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion, but Russia and the West agreed to leave the door open to possible further talks on arms control and confidence-building measures intended to reduce the potential for hostilities.

Lavrov said that those issues are secondary in respect to Moscow’s main demand for the non-expansion of NATO and the non-deployment of its weapons near the Russian territory, emphasizing that the Russian proposals represent a “package, not a menu”.

“They must understand that the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward,” Lavrov said.

He countered the US and NATO’s argument that Russia doesn’t have veto power to prevent other nations from joining the alliance by pointing to international agreements emphasizing that the security of some states mustn’t be achieved at the expense of others.

Russia’s top diplomat warned that “if our proposals are rejected, ... we will make a decision on how to ensure our security in a reliable way,” citing President Vladimir Putin’s warning that Moscow will take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West stonewalls its demands.