Russia is still awaiting a definitive response after last week it delivered a series of security proposals in the form of two separate draft documents submitted to Brussels and Washington. First floated by Putin amid the growing Ukraine standoff, they are intended to kickstart serious negotiations that would ensure the peaceful co-existence of Russia and NATO, central to which is Moscow’s demand of no more NATO eastward expansion.
An initial response was issued over the weekend on the occasion of German Defense minister Christine Lambrecht’s visit to Lithuania, where she vowed that Russia will not “dictate” NATO’s affairs. Lambrecht said, “We have to talk to each other, which means discussing the proposals that Russia has put forward, but it cannot be that Russia dictates to NATO partners how they position themselves.”
In fresh comments Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko at the same time stressed the proposals are urgently aimed at averting a potential major military conflict with NATO as tensions are at a tipping point. Crucially deputy FM Grushko stressed that if Moscow gets rebuffed or ignored in these attempts to hammer out security guarantees, Russia will be forced to prepare “counter-threats” of its own.
This also after the European Union has separately prepared a new sanctions package to enforce in the event Russia threatens Ukraine.
Grushko had this message to NATO and the EU over the weekend: “[By proposing the deal] we make it clear that we are ready to talk about how to transform a military or a military-technical scenario into a political process that will strengthen the military security of all states within The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Euro-Atlantic area and Eurasia.”
But should the West shut the door on Moscow’s overtures in the form of this security document, Russia must resort to “creating counter-threats” of its own, he added. Grushko referred to the potential for a greater force build-up near Ukraine and in Crimea, including the deployment of new weapons systems – which has for over the past month already alarmed the West.
Here’s more of what the high-ranking diplomat said, including that time is of the essence, according to a translation in Russian media:
“It will [then] be too late then to ask us why we’ve made such decisions, why we’ve deployed such systems,” he said.
Arguing that increasingly strained Russia-NATO relations have reached “the moment of truth,” which calls for a “fundamental decision,” the minister stressed that the ball is now in NATO’s court.
“We have taken this step and proceed from the fact that it will no longer be possible to somehow brush it [the security proposals] off.”
It bears recalling that according to the draft submission of the Russia-proposed document, the Kremlin laid out that it’s willing to restrict its own military activities if NATO abides by the same.
For example, in one section the document reads:
“The Parties shall refrain from flying heavy bombers equipped for nuclear or non-nuclear armaments or deploying surface warships of any type, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas outside national airspace and national territorial waters respectively, from where they can attack targets in the territory of the other Party.”
Meanwhile, below is The Washington Post’s take on the security proposals, which likely reflects the hawkish consensus within the Biden administration…
‘The deal Russia seeks with the United States would significantly weaken Ukraine, forcing it to abandon its aspirations to join NATO, and cutting Kyiv off from the U.S. military aid and weapons it needs to defend itself’ (Click Here)
— Andrew deGrandpré (@adegrandpre) December 17, 2021
Last Friday in unveiling the proposals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying that, “We are ready to immediately, even tomorrow — literally tomorrow, on Saturday, December 18th — to go for talks with the US in a third country.” As this week moves forward without a response, the Russians’ rhetoric expressing frustration and impatience will without doubt only grow.
I have spread out My hands all the day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts—
A people who provoke Me to My face continually, sacrificing [to idols] in gardens and burning incense upon bricks [instead of at God’s prescribed altar];
Who sit among the graves [trying to talk with the dead] and lodge among the secret places [or caves where familiar spirits were thought to dwell]; who eat swine’s flesh, and the broth of abominable and loathsome things is in their vessels; (Isaiah 65:2-4 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)