Russian Foreign Ministry Lays Out Detailed Proposals for New Russia-US-NATO Security Agreements
The proposal comes amid the virtual collapse of Russia-NATO ties in recent months, and weeks of claims by the US and its European allies that Moscow may be 'preparing to invade' Ukraine. Russian officials and the military have dismissed the claims, accusing the West of artificially ratcheting up tensions and spreading fake news.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has outlined two comprehensive draft agreements on security guarantees between Russia, the United States and the NATO alliance on Friday, proposing a joint commitment to the peaceful resolution of all disputes between Moscow and the Western bloc, and a reaffirmation by both sides "that they do not consider each other as adversaries".
"The Parties shall settle all international disputes in their mutual relations by peaceful means and refrain from the use or threat of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations," the Russian proposal suggests.
The documents for both proposals were presented to US representatives in a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on 15 December, and were said to have been complemented by an explanation of the logic behind Russia's thinking.
Emergency Hotlines, Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, Restraint in Drills
The detailed proposals include the creation of "hotlines" for emergency contacts between the parties. The documents commit the parties not to "create conditions or situations that pose or could be perceived to pose a threat to the national security of other Parties".
The proposals also outline mechanisms on dealing with disputes in specific regions. "The Parties shall maintain dialogue and interaction on improving mechanisms to prevent incidents on and over the high seas (primarily in the Baltics and the Black Sea region)," the drafts state. The drafts also suggest enhancing cooperation between parties to prevent dangerous confrontations on or above the high seas, "including agreeing on the maximum approach distance between warships and aircraft".
The drafts also propose that Russia and NATO "exercise restraint in military planning and conducting exercises to reduce risks of eventual dangerous situations in accordance with their obligations under international law, including those set out in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of incidents at sea outside territorial waters and in the airspace above, as well as in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of dangerous military activities".
"In order to exclude incidents, the Russian Federation and the [Party] member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activities above the brigade level in a zone of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and the states in a military alliance with it, as well as Parties that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization," the draft agreement proposes.
The proposals further encourage the parties to "regularly and voluntarily exchange assessments of contemporary threats and security challenges, inform each other about military exercises and manoeuvres, and maintain provisions of their military doctrines".
Commitment by Russia, US Not to Use Territory of Other Nations to Plan Attacks Against One Another
Russia's proposals include a commitment by the US side not to create military bases in former republics of the Soviet Union which are not members of the NATO alliance, and to refrain from the bloc's further eastward expansion.
"The Parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organisations, military alliances or coalitions, in areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other Party as a threat to national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the Parties," the document says.
"The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," the document adds.
Such a commitment would impact Ukraine and Georgia, which have advanced security cooperation agreements with the US and NATO, and possibly the states of Central Asia, which have engaged in military cooperation with the US and hosted US bases in past decades.
"The Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and in Central Asia," the text of the draft treaty says.
The draft agreement also obliges Russia and the United States generally do not seek to use the territory of other states "with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the Other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party."
The proposal further suggests that Russia and members of NATO as of 1997, before the bloc began its post-Cold War eastward expansion, should not deploy troops and weapons to other European countries.
The Russian security proposals also include a commitment by Russia and the US not to deploy ground-based missiles which were banned under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty "outside their national territories, as well as in areas of their national territories from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other Party".
The draft invites Russia, the US and other NATO nuclear powers to commit to the principle of the impossibility of unleashing a nuclear war, urging the sides to reaffirm "that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and [to recognise] the need to make every effort to prevent the risk of outbreak of such war among States that possess nuclear weapons."
The Russian proposal also calls on the US to refrain from training military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear states in the use of nuclear weapons.
It calls on Russia and the US to refrain from flying both nuclear and non-nuclear heavy bombers, and sailing surface warships, outside their air and sea space, to areas where they can target the other party.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed later Friday that Washington has had a chance to look at the Russian proposals. "We have seen the Russian proposals, we're discussing them with our European allies and partners. I will not that there will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners," Psaki said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also confirmed that he has received the Russian proposals, and said that any dialogue must take account of the alliance's security concerns, and the opinion of Ukraine. Stoltenberg suggested that he has made clear that NATO is ready to work with Russia to improve trust.
An unnamed White House official told Reuters Friday that the Biden administration was "prepared to discuss matters of security and strategic concern with Russia."
"We are having discussions with European allies and partners, and will be in touch with the Russian government on next steps soon," the official said.
Later Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that Moscow expects Washington to enter negotiations on the pair of agreements in the near future.
"The US side was given the necessary explanation in detail on the logic of the Russian approach [to the draft proposals] in detailed form, and the corresponding arguments were presented. We expect...[that] the United States will soon enter into serious negotiations with Russia on the critical issue of maintaining peace and stability," Zakharova said.
Russia-NATO relations hit a post-Cold War low point in recent months. In October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the current state of ties could not even be described as "catastrophic", because "to be catastrophic you need to have something. We don't have any relations with NATO".
Lavrov made the comments following the Western alliance's move to revoke the accreditation of eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO, which prompted Moscow to suspend the operations of NATO's information office in Moscow.
The chill in the relationship has been exacerbated amid recent claims by Western officials and media that Russia may have concentrated up to 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine in preparation for a possible invasion of its neighbour. Moscow has dismissed the allegations, accusing those who make them of artificially ratcheting up tensions, and warning that Kiev itself may be building up its forces for a possible attempt to resolve the frozen civil war in Ukraine's east by force.
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