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Moscow regards negotiations with the US and NATO on security guarantees as unsuccessful. This assessment was made in the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry… In Europe, these contacts were also given an unambiguous assessment, describing the alliance’s reaction to the proposals of the Russian Federation as “an extremely specific refusal.” According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, considering how diametric the positions of the parties are, such an outcome should not cause surprise… At the same time, neither Russia nor the alliance is curtailing the dialogue – clarity about its prospects will appear next week, when Washington and NATO send Moscow their reaction “on paper”.

Beyond diplomacy

On January 13, the third and final meeting of the negotiating marathon on security guarantees took place in Vienna. It took place on the sidelines of the OSCE – in its Permanent Council. It was a special meeting in honor of Poland’s transfer of the presidency of the organization for 2022 – Russian proposals on security guarantees were only part of this meeting.

On it, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the organization, Alexander Lukashevich, presenting Russian requirements for security guarantees to his colleagues from 56 participating countries, in particular, said that destabilization in the region had reached its limit and not the least role in this was played by the policy of the United States and the alliance to contain Russia. Attempts to “roll up” the talks on guarantees will only worsen the security situation, the diplomat emphasized.

Photo: RIA Novosti / Alexey Vitvitsky

The new OSCE chairman, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, said at this meeting: “The risk of war in the OSCE region is much greater today than it has ever been in the past 30 years.” According to Alexander Lukashevich, the acuteness of the situation lies precisely in the “expansion of the NATO presence in Europe.”

The efforts of the United States and NATO have destroyed the material foundations of European security, the diplomat said, answering Izvestia’s question why Moscow decided to launch negotiations on guarantees right now.… – It can’t go on like this. That is why the question arose of legally formalized binding guarantees of the inadmissibility of military scenarios and the use of NATO instruments against Russia’s interests.

Howbeit, The conversation in the OSCE did not particularly influence the outcome of the consultations on guarantees – assessments and statements began to sound even during the meeting of the Permanent Council. So, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov called the negotiations, which took place this week in Geneva and Brussels, unsuccessful… There are disagreements on the fundamental issues that Moscow has put before the West – “This is bad, it can only be counted as a minus of the two rounds that have taken place”, stated the official representative of the Kremlin.

He also commented on the proposal of American senators to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation in the event of its attack on Ukraine. The bill, which a group of democrats submitted to the Senate on January 12, the day of the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, includes measures against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, members of the government and representatives of the country’s military leadership. Dmitriy Peskov compared such sanctions with the severance of relations between the countries, and explained their publication on the day of key negotiations as a priori senseless “attempt to put pressure on Moscow.”.

In negotiations with the United States and NATO, Russia put forward three key demands: 1. Non-expansion of the alliance to the east; 2. The return of his armed forces to the 1997 position; 3. Non-deployment of strike weapons at the Russian borders. According to diplomats, Moscow does not intend to give up any of these aspects. The alliance expressed its readiness to discuss only the third point, categorically rejecting the first two.

The negotiations did not bring any results. There are estimates [глав делегаций на переговорах] Sergey Ryabkov and Alexander Grushko – they say, business and professional– Professor of the Higher School of Economics Evgeny Buzhinsky told Izvestia. – There are, of course, points on which it is quite possible to agree – exercises, non-deployment of missiles. All the rest of the Russian demands were rejected. Then everything will depend on Ukraines. If it escalates, then Russia will have to intervene.

On January 12, the head of the Russian delegation to the Russia-NATO Council, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko, made such an opportunity. According to him, the Russian Federation is already feeling “real threats to its security.” “We will take all necessary measures to fend off these threats by military means, if it does not work out with political means,” he summed up after consultations in Brussels.

This topic was continued the next day by his colleague, who headed the Russian delegation at the talks in Geneva, Deputy Minister Sergei Ryabkov. In an interview with the channel RTVI he said that, if “things go completely in the direction of provoking Russia,” Moscow may resort to measures “along the lines of the Navy.” “We do not want this, diplomats must agree”, – at the same time he stressed.

Until next week

Moscow said that they were ready for the lack of results at these consultations. “We roughly understood what the conversation would be like, – said on January 13 on the air Channel One Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. – But it was fundamentally important for us to fulfill the direct instructions of the president, who said that we are obliged to raise these questions in the most rigid manner., issues that relate to the entire architecture of European security ”.

According to Sergei Ryabkov, the impasse of the current situation lies in the fact that The West and Moscow have different priorities – NATO wants to discuss primarily those issues that, from the point of view of the Russian Federation, are secondary in comparison with the non-expansion of the alliance… “I don’t see any grounds to sit down in the coming days, to gather again and start these same discussions,” the diplomat said, noting that “the dialogue does not stop,” but “goes on at different levels and along different lines”. “We must continue to persistently strive for the correct movement, the necessary evolution from the western side. We will deal with this, ”summed up Sergei Ryabkov.

The parties initially had diametrically opposed approaches, interests and requirements – therefore, it is not surprising that at the end of the first meeting they remained unchanged., – Andrey Baklitsky, senior researcher at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies, PIR Center consultant, told Izvestia. – Now, as far as can be judged, Moscow is awaiting a written response from the United States, on the basis of which further work will be carried out. But overall, the situation remains very tense. Russia has repeatedly said that it is against “chattering” this process and will not conduct endless negotiations on this score. Warnings about military-technical measures are sounded. That is, if it becomes clear that the process is not moving anywhere, some countermeasures will be taken. But while the process continues.

Sergey Ryabkov

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov before the start of bilateral talks on security between the United States and Russia in Geneva.

Photo: REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

Sergei Ryabkov also commented on the news about US sanctions. “We will find alternatives, whatever. Russia has never buckled under pressure, never succumbed to threats and blackmail, ”he said. Foreign exchange markets reacted quite brightly to his speech – the ruble lost 0.42% against the dollar, while the Moscow Exchange index fell 2.2%.

From the West, the European Union also joined in the exchange of signals, which hitherto had not participated in negotiations with Moscow. On January 13, speaking in France after an informal meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell said that Russia received “an extremely specific refusal” for its demands.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in turn, as if in spite of the Russian demand not to expand the alliance, said on January 13 that the organization could accept Finland and Sweden into its ranks. (both countries declare their neutrality and do not enter into military alliances). According to the secretary general, Helsinki and Stockholm are “very close partners” that “meet NATO standards in almost all areas” and whose entry into the alliance “can happen very quickly.” “But there must be a political decision by Sweden and Finland,” Jens Stoltenberg said. Helsinki and Stockholm once again stated that they did not plan to join the alliance, but stressed that they should have such an opportunity.

Despite harsh rhetoric from both sides, Moscow leaves room for maneuver – until the US and NATO put their reaction to the Russian proposals on paper… “The Americans promised us to try, but we told them that they need to try very hard, make their counter-proposals next week,” Sergei Lavrov said. A full-fledged response from Moscow will follow the official response.

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