The NATO countries announced their intention to discuss Russia’s proposals on security guarantees this week. However, the attitude towards the document prepared by Russia was quite resolute as seen from the statements about not allowing Moscow to “dictate” the alliance how to act, said by the German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht on Sunday, December 19, 2021.
“I have clearly stated that we should look for a solution to the tense situation in which we find ourselves, both on the diplomatic level and with the help of credible deterrence. This also means talking to each other, i.e. discussing the proposals made by Russia. This an important and right, but it should not be that Russia dictates the NATO partners how to act,” Lambrecht said.
The Minister also noted that Germany had increased the preparedness level of its rapid deployment forces.
“This is an important signal that we act when actions are required. We will, of course, talk about Russia’s proposals in the coming days, but I will say it once again: our presence here in Lithuania is very much conscious, for sending a deterrence signal,” Lambrecht stated.
In turn, Norway’s Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, has called the lists of proposals Russia has sent to NATO and the US “unrealistic.”
“The requirements are completely unrealistic,” Huitfeldt said, adding that it would be like “turning the clock back 30 years”.
In May 1997, NATO and Russia concluded the so-called Basic Treaty, which provides for cooperation between the Western defence alliance and Russia, including a permanent council for talks. In that cooperation agreement, assurances of non-expansion were provided to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1999, two years after the Basic Treaty was signed, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic chose to join NATO. Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania followed in 2004 alongside former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Since then, NATO has opened up to Ukrainian and Georgian membership as well.
“It is the responsibility of each independent country to decide how foreign policy should be organised. It is important for Norway, it is important for the former Soviet republics. They have chosen through democratic decisions in their national assemblies. That is the basis for any country’s independence,” Huitfeldt claimed.
Earlier, the Minister also called to limit NATO traffic near Russia and suggested it was in Norway’s interest to use its own armed forces as a means of balancing deterrence with reassurance.
Commenting on the draft proposals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, emphasised that they are not “formulated as a menu, where it is possible to pick and choose”, but rather “reinforce each other and must be evaluated in their totality”.
In addition, another Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko, said Russia will be forced to take measures to create a system of counterthreats if the US and NATO reject Moscow’s security proposals.