Today, on February 17, Russia sent a letter to the US with a response to Washington’s proposals on security guarantees. This was stated today at a press conference by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On February 17, 2022, the US Ambassador, John Sullivan, invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry, was given the following reaction to the previously received American response on the Russian draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the USA on security guarantees.
As stated by the Russian Foreign Minister, the Russian response was published to the open sources a few hours after it was passed to the American side.
“It is absolutely necessary that interested members of civil societies of our countries are aware of what is happening, what positions each side is defending, because otherwise, if it is kept secret, as our colleagues from Washington and Brussels prefer, then public opinion will be clogged with lies, outright propaganda, which now fills information spaces when describing what is happening in Europe, on the border of Russia and Ukraine,” Lavrov explained.
However, shortly after the Russian response is published, the official website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stopped working.
Anyway, Russian mainstream media managed to provide country residents with the full text of the statement.
Russian response: Key points
- The American side did not give a constructive response to the basic elements of the draft treaty” prepared by the Russian side on security guarantees, in particular, about the rejection of further expansion of NATO, the withdrawal of the “Bucharest formula” and the rejection of the creation of military bases on the territory of states that were previously part of the USSR and are not members of the alliance.
- The Russian proposals are of a package nature and should be considered as a whole without singling out its individual components.
- “The package nature of Russian proposals was ignored, from which “convenient” topics were deliberately chosen, which, in turn, were ‘twisted’ in the direction of creating advantages for the US and its allies.
- The growing US and NATO military activity close to Russian borders is alarming, while Russia’s right to protect its security interests continue to be ignored: ultimate demands to withdraw troops from certain areas on Russian territory, accompanied by threats of tougher sanctions, are unacceptable.
- In the absence of the readiness of the American side to agree on firm, legally binding guarantees of Russia’s security from the US and its allies, Russia will be forced to respond, including through the implementation of military-technical measures.
Situation in Ukraine
- There is no and is not planned any “Russian invasion” of Ukraine, therefore statements about Russia’s “responsibility for the escalation” cannot be regarded otherwise than as an attempt to devalue Russia’s proposals for security guarantees.
- The loss of territorial integrity by the Ukrainian state is the result of the processes that have taken place within it.
- The decision of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol to return to the Russian Federation was made by free will in the exercise of the right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter. The question of Crimea’s belonging is closed.
- If Ukraine is accepted into NATO, there will be a real threat that the regime in Kiev will try to “return” Crimea by force, drawing in the US and its allies into a direct armed conflict with Russia.
To de-escalate the situation around Ukraine, it is fundamentally important to take the following steps:
- Force Kiev to comply with a set of measures.
- Stop the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
- Withdraw all Western advisers and instructors from there.
- Refuse NATO countries from any joint exercises with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
- Withdraw all foreign weapons previously delivered to Kiev outside Ukrainian territory.
- The deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on its territory does not and cannot affect the fundamental interests of the US.
- There are no Russian forces on the territory of Ukraine.
- The US and its allies were moving their military infrastructure to the East, deploying contingents in the territories of new members. The situation that has developed as a result of these actions is unacceptable.
- Russia “insists” on the withdrawal of all US armed forces and weapons deployed in CEE, SEE and the Baltics.
The principle of indivisibility of security
- Washington expressed commitment to the concept of the indivisibility of security, though, boils down to the right of states “to freely choose or change the methods of ensuring their security, including union treaties.”
- This freedom is not absolute and is only half of the formula fixed in the Charter for European Security, while the second part requires when exercising this right, “not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of other states.”
- It is impossible to regard the letter received from NATO dated February 10, 2022, as a response to the message sent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on January 28, 2022, to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on this issue, as there is no response “in a national capacity.”
NATO Open Door Policy
- The US reiterates its “strong support” for NATO’s “open door” policy, though it runs counter to the basic commitments made within the CSCE/OSCE, primarily the commitment “not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of others.”
- This policy is not consistent with the guidelines of the alliance itself, which undertook “not to derive unilateral advantages from the changed situation in Europe”, “not to threaten the legitimate interests” of other states, not to strive for the “isolation” or “drawing new dividing lines on the continent”.
- Russia calls on the US and NATO to return to fulfilling their international obligations in the field of maintaining peace and security.
Deployment of nuclear weapons
- In its document, the US did not react to the withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed outside its borders to the national territory and the refusal of their further deployment outside the national territory.
- Russia’s proposals touch upon the problem of the presence on the territory of some non-nuclear NATO states of US nuclear weapons that are capable of hitting targets on Russian territory.
- Without removing this irritant, it is impossible to discuss the topic of non-strategic nuclear weapons.
Military exercises and manoeuvres
- The US apparently proceeds from the fact that it is possible to reduce tension in the military sphere by increasing transparency and additional measures to reduce the danger. Russia considers such an approach unrealistic and one-sided, aimed at “seeing through” the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
- Confidence- and security-building measures under the Vienna Document 2011 are adequate to the current situation. To start discussing the possibility of updating them, the necessary conditions must be created.
- The US and its allies should abandon the policy of “containment” of Russia and take concrete practical measures to de-escalate the military-political situation.
- As regards the prevention of incidents on the high seas and in the airspace above it, the readiness of the US for appropriate consultations is welcomed.
“However, this work cannot replace the settlement of the key problems posed by Russia,” the document concludes.