Moscow lays out demands to limit NATO and US influence

Russia unveiled on Friday treaty proposals to drastically limit American and NATO influence in its neighborhood, and called for the opening “on Saturday” of talks, in order to prevent an escalation of tensions in Europe.

These documents are published against the backdrop of growing Russo-Western tensions around Ukraine, a country neighboring Russia. Americans and Europeans accuse Moscow of preparing a military offensive there.

Reacting to these proposals, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said there would be “no discussions on European security without our European allies and partners”.

The two texts presented on Friday by Moscow provide in particular to prohibit any expansion of NATO and the establishment of American military bases in the countries of the former Soviet space.

It is unusual for diplomats to publicly present this type of working paper, as discretion generally allows for the necessary latitude to negotiators.

“It is essential that the security guarantees for Russia are written down on paper and have the force of law”, underlined Sergei Riabkov, the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, presenting these texts to the press.

He also proposed the opening of negotiations from “Saturday, December 18”, hoping that they take place in Geneva.

” Blank page “

The two documents consist of nine and eight articles, respectively, and each last four pages.

According to Mr. Riabkov, they must re-establish Russian-Western cooperation in the “total absence of mutual trust” and in view of NATO’s “aggressive” policy “in the Russian neighborhood”.

The manager judged that it was a question of “relaunching the relationship from a blank page”.

President Vladimir Putin had already called on Tuesday for “immediate” negotiations on guarantees to be given to Russia for its security.

In a videoconference interview in early December, he also asked his American counterpart Joe Biden for such legal guarantees.

The proposed treaties would prohibit the United States from establishing military bases in all non-NATO member countries of the former USSR, from using the infrastructure there “for any military activity” and even from “developing a bilateral military cooperation ”with these states.

All members of the Atlantic Alliance would pledge never to enlarge NATO and not to carry out any “military activity on the territory of Ukraine and in other countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus of the South and Central Asia ”.

However, Ms Psaki on Friday dismissed any “compromise” on “the fact that all countries have the right to decide their own future and foreign policy without being subject to outside influence”.

“Unrealistic”

Enlargement to include former Soviet countries is a red line for Russia, and Ukraine and Georgia are candidates for entry into NATO.

Russian expert Konstantin Kalatchev, interviewed by AFP, however considered that the proposals presented on Friday were “unrealistic”. “The Americans will perceive them as a propaganda trick, a communication stunt to divert attention from Moscow’s actions to those of NATO,” he said.

“For Russia, it is important to show that the threat does not come from it and that it does not intend to attack Ukraine or start a war with the United States”, a- he added.

Moscow annexed Ukrainian Crimea and is widely seen as the godfather of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, where civil conflict has claimed some 13,000 lives since 2014. Russia also defeated Georgia in a short war in 2008.

The West refused to close NATO’s door to these two countries, but they also de facto froze the membership process.

Washington, NATO and the European Union accuse Moscow of massing tens of thousands of military personnel on Ukraine’s borders in recent weeks in preparation for a possible invasion and threaten Russia with unprecedented sanctions.

The Kremlin rejects these accusations and says instead that it is under threat from NATO, which is arming Kiev and increasing its military presence in the Black Sea region.

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Reference-www.ledevoir.com

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