By Kevin Zhang
Russia has said on Friday that it was looking to NATO was a legally-binded guarantee to withdraw its military activities in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, among other demands in a list of security guarantees it was looking to negotiate with the West.
For the first time, Moscow had laid out detailed demands that it says are necessary to fulfill in order to decrease tensions between Russia and the West and defusing a crisis over Ukraine, which Western countries have accused Russia of preparing for a potential invasion of the Eastern European country after a mass buildup of troops near the border. Russia has denied these accusations.
The demands include points such as an effective Russian veto on Ukraine’s membership in NATO, which the West has already denied. Others include a removal of American nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from other NATO stations in Eastern Europe, such as Poland and the Baltic states, which were once controlled by the Soviet Union.
A senior administration official for the U.S. government has said that the U.S. was prepared to discuss the terms of the proposal with Russia, but added that “there are some things in those documents that the Russians know are unacceptable.”
The official also added that Washington would respond next week for more concrete discussion on possible talks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington would take into account the opinions of its allies, saying “We will not compromise the key principles on which European security is built, including that all countries have the right to decide their own future and foreign policy, free from outside interference.”
NATO diplomats have told Russia that it cannot decide NATO matters, regarding the demand for a veto of Ukrainian membership, and Ukraine has also asserted its own right to decide its foreign policy.