- Sputnik International, 1920, 13.01.2022
Russia-NATO Row on European Security
Russia proposed draft agreements on security guarantees for NATO and the US in late 2021 requesting the alliance not to expand eastward as Moscow considers such a move a threat to its national security. NATO insists it will not allow its "Open Door" policy to be slammed shut.

‘Ukrainian Stance Doesn’t Matter’: Bellicose US Posture Makes Kiev-Moscow Talks Harder, Expert Says

© Roland BalikSenior Airman Cameron Manson, 436th Aerial Port Squadron ramp services specialist, watches a marshaller for directions as he aligns a cargo loader with an aircraft during a foreign military sales mission with Ukraine at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Feb. 10, 2022.
Senior Airman Cameron Manson, 436th Aerial Port Squadron ramp services specialist, watches a marshaller for directions as he aligns a cargo loader with an aircraft during a foreign military sales mission with Ukraine at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Feb. 10, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.02.2022
Any attempts by Ukraine to discuss de-escalation with Russia or to create an environment conducive to talks face a strong headwind from the US and UK, whose governments have continued their bellicose rhetoric to score “easy political points,” a British foreign affairs analyst told Sputnik.
“The Ukrainian stance doesn’t matter. As the last few days proved, neither President Biden or the mainstream media in the West care about the Ukrainian perspective,” Adriel Kasonta, a London-based foreign affairs analyst and former chairman of the International Affairs Committee at the Bow Group think tank, said on Tuesday.
Noting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy contradicted Biden’s claims about a potential Russian invasion in the coming days, Kasonta said that “one seemed to pay much attention to what he was saying.”
“As we know, all the information about the alleged ‘invasion’ and ‘war’ have been coming from US intelligence, not from Ukraine,” he pointed out.
“Ukrainian hawks have acknowledged the reality long before the current standoff, but we have to understand that they’ve never been true masters of their own fate. The fact that Ukraine’s ambassador in London has been forced to backtrack on his previous comments made to the BBC that his country is willing to be ‘flexible’ on its ambition to join NATO proves my point. Kiev is just another pawn on the grand chessboard used by the US to advance their goals in Eastern Europe,” the analyst said.

‘Not Everything is Lost’ in NATO Talks

On Monday, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Vadym Prystaiko said Kiev "might agree" not to join NATO if it would help defuse the crisis with Russia.
"If we have to go through some serious concessions - that's something we might do, that's for sure,” he added.
His words elicited approval from the Kremlin, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that if Kiev did write off joining NATO, it would be “a step that would significantly contribute to formulating a more meaningful response to Russian concerns.” However, Peskov noted that it was unlikely to change Kiev’s worldview by itself.
However, Prystaiko’s words were quickly corrected by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, with spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeting that Prystaiko’s words had been “taken out of context.”
“The goal of NATO membership is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine and no decisions can contradict it. The matter of security guarantees for Ukraine is urgent,” Nikolenko added. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said that the issue of Ukraine’s membership in NATO was up to Ukraine and the 30 NATO member states.
In separate comments to Reuters, Prystaiko clarified his position further, saying that while Kiev is “ready for many concessions,” they have “nothing to do with NATO.”
Despite Kiev doubling down on NATO membership, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted on Tuesday that NATO had recently begun changing its positions and was taking Russian security concerns more seriously than it has in years.
"The swiftness with which NATO has changed its position suggests that not everything is lost in relations with this bloc; [It indicates] that they can admit the obvious when they really want it," Lavrov said.
While the issue of NATO’s so-called “open door” membership policy remains Russia’s primary concern, Lavrov noted other areas that NATO has reacted more favorably, including a moratorium on intermediate-range missiles in the region following Washington’s destruction of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019. That deal had dramatically reduced tensions by banning missiles with dangerously short flight times, but the US withdrawal made it possible for US Aegis Ashore stations in Romania and Poland that Washington had declared purely defensive could be refitted to fire strike missiles with ranges reaching deep inside Russian territory.
Lavrov also noted Poland's proposal to revive the informal dialogue on European security within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), saying that such proposals show an "understanding of existing issues," as well as a "willingness" to deal with them.

Posturing for Posterity

However, NATO isn’t the same thing as the United States. Kasonta told Sputnik that “it’ll take some time” until Washington starts taking Russia’s concerns seriously.
“The more they'll fear an assertive China, the more they’ll try to pretend that they understand Russia’s concerns and accept [Russia] as an equal partner. Nevertheless, it will never be an honest admission. They need Moscow to help them balance Beijing. It’s as simple as that.”
For Kasonta, Biden’s posturing as strong against Moscow and Beijing is essential to keep his administration afloat.
“Russia serves the role of evergreen unifier in the domestic politics of the US, since everyone seems to be on board with Biden’s Cold War-like ‘democracy vs autocracy’ populist rhetoric that allows him to reclaim the role of the Leader of the Free World,” the analyst said. “It means a lot to them since they crave for claiming the moral high ground over Russia, as well as China.”
“Biden is desperate to find his place in history, and this cheap chutzpah is how he is going
to be remembered beyond the so-called ‘Western world,’” he added, noting the “same applies to Boris Johnson in the UK.”
As an example, he predicted that Western leaders in general, but Biden in particular, would “exploit military drills in Belarus to their advantage” by ignoring Moscow’s transparency about the scheduling of those drills to “score some easy political points both at home and on the international stage.”
As a result, Kasonta noted that “the West can’t be trusted” because of how it views Russia and Russians.
“According to Westerners, ‘civilized’ people don't have to make any concessions to the ‘barbarians’ from the East. In their mind, it always has to be another way around. Russian fears don't matter and are being played down as unjustified, post-Soviet paranoia. They’ll continue a dialogue with Russia, not to show empathy and genuine understanding, but to buy more time and eventually dismiss the Kremlin's legitimate concerns,” he said.
“If they had been acting in good faith, we wouldn't see this dangerous, warmongering show. It’s as simple as that. Moscow has to draw the correct conclusions and adjust its politics to the given circumstances. Being naive about the West and its ultimate intentions vis-à-vis Moscow can prove to be very dangerous for the future generations of Russians.”
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