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US, NATO respond to Russia's security demands

January 26, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington made no concessions, but said the move offered a new "diplomatic path" out of the Ukraine crisis.

Flags of the USA and Russia against the background of the cloudy sky
The US and Russia have held intense diplomatic exchanges over the past few weeksImage: picture alliance/Zoonar

The United States and NATO said on Wednesday that they delivered written replies to security demands that Russia had made.

It comes amid heightened tensions and repeated warnings that Russia could be preparing military action against Ukraine

Russia had demanded security guarantees that Ukraine would never join NATO, and that the alliance stops its eastward expansion — which the US and NATO rejected. 

A diplomatic path forward

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the document addressed Moscow's concerns and raised those of Washington's allies but made no concessions. 

"Putting things in writing is... a good way to make sure we're as precise as possible, and the Russians understand our positions, our ideas, as clearly as possible. Right now, the document is with them and the ball is in their court," he told reporters.

Blinken said he would speak with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in the coming days.

The letter would not be made public, "because we think that diplomacy has the best chance to succeed," Blinken said. 

Blinken reiterated Washington's stance on the Russian demand that Ukraine never becomes a NATO member. "I can't be more clear — NATO's door is open, remains open, and that is our commitment," he said.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance "firmly believes that tensions and disagreements must be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy." 

"We are now reaching out to Russia once again to try to pursue a path of dialogue and find a political solution," Stoltenberg said, after the alliance sent Moscow a written response to its security demands. 

"But of course while we are hoping for and working for a good solution, de-escalation, we are also prepared for the worst," he said.

What were Russia's demands?

On Wednesday, Russia said it had received Washington's response to its security demands from US Ambassador John Sullivan.

"The head of the American diplomatic mission handed over a written response of the US administration to the draft bilateral treaty on security guarantees," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following Sullivan's meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

Last December, Moscow laid out calls for the US-led NATO alliance not to admit new members or establish bases in former Soviet countries.

But earlier this week, NATO announced it was dispatching additional fighter jets and ships to Eastern Europe, triggering an angry response from Russia. Moscow said the US and NATO were escalating tensions in the region through "information hysteria" and "concrete actions."

A map illustrating NATO presence in Eastern Europe

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told lawmakers that he would advise President Vladimir Putin on the next steps after receiving Washington's reply.

"If the West continues its aggressive course, Moscow will take the necessary retaliatory measures,'' he said.

Lavrov had also stressed that Moscow "won't allow our proposals to be drowned in endless discussions."

Ongoing diplomacy

Wednesday's announcements came as envoys from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France held diplomatic negotiations in Paris under the so-called Normandy format

The talks, which lasted more than eight hours, concluded that the parties agreed to meet again in Berlin for further dialogue, the French presidential palace Elysee said in a statement. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will also reportedly head to Washington, DC, in February for talks with President Joe Biden, according to German newspaper Bild.

Germany has so far insisted on the diplomatic path to resolve the crisis. Ukraine recently criticized Berlin for refusing to send weapons, like the US and the UK did, saying that the move could hamper diplomatic efforts. 

fb/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)