Normal Diplomatic Discussions With NATO Impossible in Light of Bloc's Moves, Russia Says
09:09 GMT 22.10.2021 (Updated: 09:57 GMT 22.10.2021)
On Monday, Russia suspended the operation of NATO's information office in Moscow, and its own permanent mission to the alliance, over the bloc's move to revoke the accreditation of employees of the Russian mission to NATO. From now on, the alliance is instructed to turn to Russia's ambassador to Belgium if it has "any urgent matters" to discuss.
Normal diplomatic relations with NATO are impossible amid the hostile measures taken by the alliance against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has said.
Speaking at a briefing Friday, Grushko suggested that at this moment, there are no longer any positive moments in relations between Russia and the alliance to speak of.
The diplomat pointed to NATO's growing activity on Russia's borders, including the deployment of a strategic component, which he said "creates new military realities." Grushko suggested that the alliance is quickly "sliding into Cold War schemes," with such actions "directly influencing relations with Russia."
Inviting the bloc to select a country whose diplomatic mission will serve as the alliance's representative in Moscow, Grushko emphasised that Russia will continue to support normal contacts with NATO nations on the topic of European security.
Grushko's remarks come in the wake of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's announcement Monday that Moscow would be suspending the operation of NATO's information office in Russia, and the work of its own permanent mission to the alliance, over the bloc's decision to revoke the accreditation of eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO. The bloc expressed "regret" over Russia's decision.
On Tuesday, Lavrov accused the Western bloc of "burying" the idea of talks with Russia by rejecting the idea of urgent consultations in crisis situations. The foreign minister stressed that Moscow has repeatedly proposed to NATO the need for agreements on the lines that their militaries should not cross, how close they should come to shared borders etc.. All these proposals by Russia have been met with silence, according to Lavrov.
On Thursday, after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin confirmed Washington's support for Ukraine's aspirations to join the alliance during a visit to Kiev, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko warned that the Eastern European nation's entry into the bloc would be an extremely dangerous step which would force Moscow to respond.
Also Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called NATO's military presence in Ukraine a "threat to Russia" and suggested that Austin's visit to Kiev factually constituted "opening the doors for Ukraine to NATO".
Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
In 1990, at the end of the Cold War, then-US Secretary of State James Baker gave Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a verbal commitment not to expand NATO "one inch" eastward beyond the borders of a reunified Germany. In the thirty years since, mostly under Putin's watch, every one of Moscow's erstwhile Warsaw Pact allies, plus the three former Baltic republics of the Soviet Union, and four republics of the former Yugoslavia, were incorporated into the bloc.
Moscow has expressed concerns about this expansion, pointing to the deployment of contingents of American and Western European troops and equipment in Eastern European countries (despite earlier commitments not to do so), regular drills near Russia's borders, and the setting up of a ring of US biological weapons laboratories near in countries such as Ukraine and Georgia (two nations aspiring to join the alliance).
Russia also fears that the US Aegis Ashore missile defence system components deployed in Poland and Romania could easily be converted to fire nuclear-tipped Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets inside Russia, possibly as part of the Pentagon's concept of a 'Prompt Global Strike' decapitation attack.