US Will Not Agree to All Russian Security Proposals, Compromise Possible, Political Experts Suggest
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - While the United States will not concede to all of Russia's security proposals, especially when it comes to the issue of NATO expansion, it is possible for the two sides to reach a compromise, experts have told Sputnik.
On December 17, Moscow presented draft agreements between Russia, the United States and NATO on security guarantees, which, if agreed to, would prevent NATO from expanding eastwards and prohibit the US and Russia from stationing intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles within striking distance of each other's territory, among other things. Moscow and Washington are expected to hold negotiations on the security guarantees on January 10. It will be followed by a Russia-NATO Council meeting on the Russian security proposals on January 12 and a summit of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on January 13.
According to Thomas Shea, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, this series of interconnected meetings sets the stage for a diplomatic conference that could result in Ukraine becoming a neutral country and creation of a framework treaty that would decrease the risks of armed conflict.
"We might hope four five-party talks on such an arrangement: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, NATO and the U.S. It is time for evidence of good faith to be shown by all five, following a time-line to the future. All five should view this as a remarkable development, but especially fragile during these times of high tension. The opening meetings will see all five voicing their respective wishes and conditions," Shea said.
Nikolai Sokov, a senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, thinks that the US took Russia's suggestions seriously as a sign that the situation around Ukraine may escalate to dangerous levels.
26 December 2021, 09:10 GMT
"Of course, there are limits to what Washington may contemplate but at least a serious dialogue can begin," Sokov opined.
The expert stated that the issue of NATO's non-expansion is a non-starter for the US, but everything else can be discussed. However, if Moscow insists on the alliance not admitting new members the deal is dead on arrival.
"There can only be a de facto, tacit agreement not to admit Ukraine and Georgia in the foreseeable future; there can also be a tacit agreement on limits to extending NATO military infrastructure to these countries, but nothing formal," Sokov said, adding that "a compromise is possible, of course, but there are limits to what would be acceptable to both Washington and Moscow."
30 December 2021, 08:33 GMT
He also explained that the Russia-US strategic stability dialogue on arms control has its own dynamic, with the main question being whether or not Washington would agree to discuss "areas other than strategic nuclear weapons – long-range conventional and missile defense first of all."
"So far, it does not seem an agreement on that central disagreement is within reach, though. Consultations on European security and NATO so far appear a separate track," Sokov explained.
Meanwhile, M. V. Ramana, the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, noted that the talks between the US and Russia involve other parties as well.
"Besides the United States and Russia, the security concerns of various countries near the border with Russia and in Eastern Europe are also at stake. Proposals that might be problematic to them might not be acceptable. Further, it is likely that US interlocutors will insist on Russia giving various guarantees in exchange," Ramana said.
Nevertheless, despite the multiple differences between the sides, there is hope that Moscow and Washington will come through with new security arrangements.
"Set aside a bottle of the best champagne you can afford on the chance — however precarious — that something great might happen," Shea concluded.
21 December 2021, 06:04 GMT