NATO Has Delivered Written Responses to Russian Security Proposal, Stoltenberg Says
17:45 GMT 26.01.2022 (Updated: 19:13 GMT 26.01.2022)
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NATO's written responses will be delivered not long after Washington sent its own responses to Russia, which were transmitted earlier on Wednesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said NATO's responses had been handed over to the Russian ambassador in Brussels on Wednesday evening.
"We call on Russia once again to immediately de-escalate the situation. NATO firmly believes that tensions and disagreements must be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday evening, adding that the Brussels-based alliance was ready to listen to Russian concerns.
Stoltenberg also proposed that Russia and NATO should re-establish their respective offices in Brussels and Moscow. The offices were shuttered in October 2021 by Moscow in retaliation for NATO pulling the accreditation of eight Russian officials to its Brussels headquarters after accusing them of being Russian intelligence officers. NATO had also already halved the staff at its Moscow office from 20 to 10.
"We are proposing mutual briefings on exercises and nuclear policies in the NATO-Russia Council," Stoltenberg added.
The NATO chief said that NATO is a defense alliance that does not seek confrontation and hoped for the best outcome, but was also preparing for the worst. To that end, he noted a 5,000-strong response force had already been formed and could be ready to deploy within days and that NATO was strengthening its presence in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.
The US submitted its own
written responses to Russian security proposals, which Blinken said
reiterated what US officials have already said publicly, including that NATO's membership policy would not change and actions by Russia that he said undermined regional security. He said the US response places the onus on Russian President Vladimir Putin to follow the diplomatic path forward they have laid out.
Blinken emphasized that while Ukraine is not a NATO ally, its leaders were consulted in the drafting of the US' response, as was US President Joe Biden.
In addition to NATO's 5,000-strong force, Biden said a separate US force of 8,500 troops had been readied for deployment to Europe in five days' time, if they are needed. However, he said the troops would not be sent to Ukraine.
Moscow's Seeks End to Eastern NATO Expansion
Moscow delivered a series of security proposals
about Eastern Europe in mid-December that were aimed at defusing the present crisis on the Ukrainian border, where NATO claims thousands of Russian troops are poised for an invasion of Ukraine. However, both Russian and Ukrainian leaders have dismissed the notion
that the troops, which are involved in drills, could constitute a strike force.
Russia's proposals address its key security concerns, including ending the further eastward expansion of NATO, most especially the potential accession of Ukraine to the alliance, and averting the stationing of more offensive weapons in Eastern Europe. Missiles stationed in the region have the potential to reach Russian cities in mere minutes - a key aspect of the threat posed by NATO in the 1980s that led to arms limitation treaties like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that the US shredded in 2019.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 by several Western European and North American capitalist powers as a collective security pact designed to avert a potential Soviet invasion. It was opposed by the Warsaw Pact signed between the Soviet Union and its socialist allies in Eastern Europe in 1955. After the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Eastern European socialist governments, NATO leaders promised
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that the alliance would not expand further east than a reunited Germany, but in the 1990s and 2000s, several former Warsaw Pact members and even several former Soviet republics joined the alliance, bringing NATO troops to the Russian border.
After the US-backed nationalist coup in Kiev in 2014 and the subsequent breaking away of several Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, including Crimea's declaration of independence and referendum to rejoin Russia, NATO began to take a more bellicose tone toward Russia, forming an Enhanced Forward Presence
force in its eastern member states and regarding Moscow as an aggressor. Washington's 2018 reorientation toward "great power competition" with China and Russia went still further, naming Moscow as a "malign actor"
that directly threatens the United States' position at the head of the post-Cold War global order.