Russia says security demands not addressed 

January 29, 2022 - 18:47

The Russian President says the official response from the U.S. and NATO on Russia’s security guarantee requests has fallen short of Moscow’s main expectations, following weeks of negotiations between the sides.

Vladimir Putin has made the remarks in a phone call with his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron. According to a Kremlin readout of the discussion, during the conversation between the two leaders “attention was drawn to the fact that the U.S. and NATO replies did not take into account Russia’s principal concerns”. 

This was Putin’s first public comment on U.S. and NATO’s responses to the Russian proposals about security in the region. 

The Kremlin added that “the key question was ignored – how the United States and its allies intend to follow the principle of security integrity… that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of another country’s security”.

According to a statement released by the Russian President’s Press office, Putin informed Macron of Moscow’s dissatisfaction with the responses received from the U.S.-led North Atlantic Alliance saying “American and NATO replies did not take into consideration Russia’s fundamental concerns, such as the prevention of NATO enlargement, the refusal to deploy weapons systems near Russia’s borders and also to return the military potential and infrastructure of the block to the positions of 1997 in Europe when the Russia-NATO Founding Act was signed”. 

The Kremlin did say that “Putin noted the Russian side will carefully study the written answers to the draft security guarantee agreements from the US and NATO… and then decide on its further actions.”

Following negotiations between Russia and the U.S.-led NATO alliance, Moscow’s outlined its key demands as being concerns over NATO’s eastward military expansion, ending the deployment of offensive weapons near Russia’s borders and returning NATO “military capabilities and infrastructure” to how they were before former Warsaw Pact states in Eastern Europe joined the alliance. 

Russia is also seeking guarantees that Ukraine, which sits on Russia’s border, will be permanently banned from joining NATO.

During the conversation between the French and Russian leaders, an agreement was reached that the two sides will continue talks on a range of security issues on the continent. 

“Macron informed Putin about Paris's approaches on the pan-European track,” the Russian president’s press service said, highlighting that France will take on the role of president of the European Union Council for the first half of 2022.

An official from the French presidential office says Putin had pointed out that Moscow is not seeking to intensify the situation, echoing similar remarks by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said Russia does not want war. The official also says Putin has agreed to continue talks, so there was a feeling that “things have moved”.

According to the French official, Putin added that the French president was “the only one who he could have such serious discussions”.

The official added that there was “disagreement, but agreement in the necessity for dialogue and that the Europeans and France are part of the ongoing dialogue, dialogue is difficult and there were no solutions from this call.”

The two leaders also touched on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Putin highlighted the importance of Kiev implementing the 2014 Minsk Agreements, which were designed to bring an end to fighting in the region.

Macron has long called on the EU to have a “frank, exacting dialogue with Russia” to defuse tensions. 

Speaking in Paris at the start of France’s six-month EU presidency, Macron said: “I think that the European Union must have a dialogue with Russia. To have a dialogue doesn’t mean to concede – dialogue means above all to take stock of disagreements.”

Meanwhile, the United States has called a UN Security Council meeting scheduled on Monday for Russia to explain its “military operations” within Russia’s own borders near Ukraine; with the White House warning about the “horrific casualties” should Russia act militarily. 

U.S. President Joe Biden has even told reporters "I will be moving U.S. troops to Eastern Europe in NATO countries in the near term” in response to “Russia's escalation” on the Ukrainian border.

The U.S and the UK have already sent military equipment to Ukraine.

This is while Germany has once again refused to send any form of military assistance to Kyiv.

Earlier this month, French President Macron marked the start of his country’s presidency of the EU by calling for a new “European order free of threats, coercion, and spheres of influence”. The remarks have been widely viewed as an attempt by Paris to be a more active player in the negotiations with Russia, rather than entrusting the discussion of Europe’s security to Washington.

Macron said, “for the sake of the security of our continent which is indivisible, both for us and for Russia, we need this dialogue [to be] a frank and demanding dialogue in the face of destabilization, interference, and manipulation”. 

Some analysts have suggested the U.S. administration and the British government are increasing their anti-Russian rhetoric in an attempt to distract the public from problems both governments are facing back at home. 

Even Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has criticized the west, in particular the White House, for creating “panic” over claims about a possible Russian attack. 

Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said “we don’t need this panic, I don’t consider the situation now more tense than before. There is a feeling abroad that there is war here. That’s not the case.”

The West has accused Russia of massing troops and military hardware along its border with Ukraine with the intention of attacking its neighbor, an accusation that Moscow has regularly denied. 

Experts say the number of Russian troops and military hardware on Russia’s border with Ukraine is not sufficient enough to launch an invasion.

A top NATO official who chose to remain anonymous told a European media outlet that “to invade such a large country with such military forces [like Ukraine], you need military capabilities other than those that have been currently deployed [by Russia].

At the same time, Russia views the Western military buildup so close to its borders as a security threat and wants official assurances that the North Atlantic Alliance will not expand further eastward. 

Observers say if Russia wanted to go to war with Ukraine, it would do so for a reason. And there is no reason, nothing even mentioned by Western officials for Russia to wage such a war. There has been no hysteria or public frenzy in Russia to indicate the government is preparing the people for armed conflict. 

Analysts say it was already agreed in the Minsk agreement that the Ukrainian government would negotiate with the Eastern “autonomous” leaders to formalize their autonomy, however, no progress has been made by Kyiv on that front. Instead, the U.S. and the UK are shipping military aid to Ukraine to escalate tensions. 

According to observers and political commentators observing the developments, there is nothing in Ukraine for Russia to fight about. Analysts say the country is struggling to pay its debt. Unlike Lithuania and Poland, the European Union has not allowed or does not want Ukraine to join the 27-nation bloc perhaps because of its financial issues, even NATO has so far rejected its membership; so why would Russia want to take over Ukraine? 

This is while, the Ukrainian President has called for direct negotiations with Russia to solve the conflict in the country’s east, an initiative that NATO has strangely not strongly backed nor desired.

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