Showdown over Ukraine looms as Russia, NATO unlikely to reach deal
If US-led bloc refuses Moscow's proposal, 'regional conflicts would increase'
By Yang Sheng Published: Dec 19, 2021 10:29 PM Updated: Dec 19, 2021 10:37 PM
The intense situation around Ukraine between Russia and NATO is unlikely to ease, as it is almost impossible that NATO will accept the security guarantee proposed by Moscow due to entrenched hostility to Russia, Chinese analysts said, adding that the US-led bloc will not give up expansion to the east, and Russia will definitely take action to retaliate.
They noted that although China hopes the two sides can resolve the situation peacefully, the two sides are unlikely to reach a new agreement without any friction and conflict, and that if negotiations break down, at least some regional conflicts may break out.
Russia will engage in "creating counter threats" if NATO turns down the Russian proposals for security guarantees, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Solovyov Live YouTube channel on Saturday, TASS reported on Saturday.
"We are making clear that we are ready to talk about switching over from a military or a military-technical scenario to a political process" that will strengthen the security of all countries in the area of the OCSE, Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia, he said. "If that doesn't work out, we signaled to them [NATO] that will also move over to creating counter threats, but it will then be too late to ask us why we made these decisions and why we deployed these systems."
The Europeans must think about the prospect of turning the continent into a field of military confrontation, he said.
Russia said on Friday it wanted a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, part of a wish list of security guarantees it wants to negotiate with the West, Reuters reported.
Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that Russia is very serious on the matter, because NATO has pushed too far in past decades which leaves Russia no space for further compromise.
Moscow for the first time laid out in detail demands that it says are essential for lowering tensions in Europe and defusing a crisis over Ukraine, which Western countries have accused Russia of sizing up for a potential invasion after building up troops near the border. Russia has denied planning an invasion., according to the Reuters report.
The demands contain elements - such as an effective Russian veto on future NATO membership for Ukraine - that the West has already ruled out. Others would imply the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from Poland and from the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that were once in the Soviet Union., it said.
"The US-led NATO was born to be hostile toward Soviet Union and Russia, because it serves US hegemony and not regional peace. The organization doesn't care about Ukraine's security at all, so while Russia remains powerful then NATO won't stop its expansion. Maybe the more dangerous the situation is, the more interests the US can receive from the tension," said a Beijing-based expert on Russia and Eastern Europe studies who asked not to be named.
"Creating tension could bring Russian retaliation and NATO members will need US protection, and then the US leadership based on security demands will be strengthened. This is how Washington plays the game but many small states don't understand, or they have no choice but to be played and used by the US," he noted.
In Washington, a senior administration official said the US was prepared to discuss the proposals with Russia, but added: "That said, there are some things in those documents that the Russians know are unacceptable," according to Reuters. The official said Washington would respond some time next week with more concrete proposals on the format of any talks.
Yang said the US will reject the Russia's proposals eventually, and Russia will take action, but a massive military confrontation is unlikely. However, the military conflicts in Eastern Ukraine could be escalated to some extent, and Russia will increase military deployments alongside the border.
"If NATO dares deploy anti-missile or other strategic weapons systems in Ukraine, Moscow would launch a surgical strike to destroy them. This is how Russia deals with provocation when red lines have been crossed," he noted.
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