SIGNS: Russia Demands USA, NATO stay out Russia’s “Sphere of Influence”

By Associated Press
MOSCOW — Russia on Friday published draft security pacts demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries and to roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe — bold demands that the United States and its allies already have rejected.

The documents, which were submitted to the U.S and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory and demand a rollback on alliance drills near Russia.

The tough demands appear certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies, which have emphasized that Russia doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement. The alliance’s secretary-general warned that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners.

The publication of the draft pacts come amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has drawn fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied plans to attack its neighbor, but demanded the West provide a set of legal guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and the deployment of the alliance’s weapons there, a demand NATO has rejected.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its NATO allies have approached a “dangerous point,” noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.

Ukrainian soldiers keep watch on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists, not far from town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, on Dec. 10, 2021.Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images
The draft pacts — a Russia-U.S. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO — contain obligations to pull back weapons and refrain from drills near the borders between Russia and the alliance members.

Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow proposed that the U.S. immediately start the talks on the proposed drafts in Geneva.

President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with U.S. President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Biden voiced concern about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbor.