US and NATO deliver responses to Russian demands over Ukraine

The United States and NATO have delivered separate written responses to Russia’s security demands, as efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Ukraine continue.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, delivered Washington’s reply to Moscow, which is seeking security guarantees that NATO will halt its eastward expansion into former Soviet republics.

Blinken said that the letter offers Russia a “serious diplomatic path” to end the impasse.

“The document we’ve delivered includes concerns of the United States and our allies and partners about Russia’s actions that undermine security, a principled and pragmatic evaluation of the concerns that Russia has raised, and our own proposals for areas where we may be able to find common ground,” Blinken told reporters.

The Russian military has been amassing troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, sparking a diplomatic crisis and heightening US and European fears that Russia may be preparing for an imminent invasion of its neighbour.

Russia has denied that it is planning to invade Ukraine, but it has vehemently opposed the country’s efforts to join NATO.

On Wednesday, Blinken stressed that Washington and its allies would not agree to curb the NATO admissions process for new members, saying the military alliance’s door “remains open”.

The top US diplomat did not share the specific details included in the document, but he said it outlined American positions and concerns about Russia’s behaviour, while highlighting areas where Washington and Moscow can cooperate to “advance collective security”.

“Right now, the document is with them, and the ball is in their court,” Blinken told reporters.

NATO responses

Shortly after Blinken’s statement, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance delivered its own written response to Russia “in parallel with the United States”.

“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,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

He called for re-establishing formal ties between Russia and NATO, and opening channels of communication to avoid escalation. The US and NATO have held a series of talks with Russian officials over the past few weeks, but the negotiations so far have failed to end the crisis.

Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday that tensions in eastern Europe are on the rise.

“We see more troops not only in and around Ukraine, but also now in Belarus where Russia is in the process of deploying thousands of troops, hundreds of aircraft, S-400 air defence systems and a lot of other very advanced capabilities,” he said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Russia will “study” the NATO proposal. “We will read it. Study it. The partners studied our project for almost a month and a half,” he told Interfax news agency.

 

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