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Russia lays out tough security demands for U.S., NATO amid Ukraine invasion fears

The tough demands appear certain to be rejected by the United States and its allies, which have emphasized that Russia doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with President Joe Biden.Mikhail Metzel / AP

MOSCOW — Russia on Friday published draft security pacts demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries and to roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe — bold demands that the United States and its allies already have rejected.

The documents, which were submitted to the U.S and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory and demand a rollback on alliance drills near Russia.

The tough demands appear certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies, which have emphasized that Russia doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement. The alliance’s secretary-general warned that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners.

The publication of the draft pacts come amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has drawn fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied plans to attack its neighbor, but demanded the West provide a set of legal guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and the deployment of the alliance’s weapons there, a demand NATO has rejected.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its NATO allies have approached a “dangerous point,” noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.

Ukrainian soldiers keep watch on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists, not far from town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, on Dec. 10, 2021.Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images

The draft pacts — a Russia-U.S. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO — contain obligations to pull back weapons and refrain from drills near the borders between Russia and the alliance members.

Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow proposed that the U.S. immediately start the talks on the proposed drafts in Geneva.

President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with U.S. President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Biden voiced concern about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbor.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the alliance had received the Russian draft documents, and noted that any dialogue with Moscow “would also need to address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on core principles and documents of European security, and take place in consultation with NATO’s European partners, such as Ukraine.”

He added that the 30 NATO countries “have made clear that should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence building measures.”

U.S. intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow has denied an intention to attack and accused Ukrainian authorities of planning an offensive to reclaim control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine — an allegation Ukraine has rejected.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It has killed over 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland called Donbas.