The Russian foreign minister said on Thursday that the US response to Russia’s proposals on security guarantees lacks a positive “reaction” to its main question about NATO’s non-expansion eastward.
The response offers ground for serious talks only on matters of secondary importance, Sergey Lavrov said in a video statement.
It “allows us to count on the beginning of a serious conversation, but on secondary issues. There is no positive reaction to the main issue in this document,” he said. “The main issue is further expansion of NATO to the east and the deployment of strike weapons that can threaten the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Russia has amassed large numbers of troops on the Ukraine border, a development Western countries see as preparation for invasion. Moscow denies this.
Last December, it presented to the US and NATO its proposal for providing security guarantees in Europe that takes into account the country’s interests.
In a written response to those demands on Wednesday, Washington said it is committed to uphold NATO’s “open door policy.” NATO also conveyed the alliance’s own reply “in parallel with the United States.”
They called for immediate de-escalation, and dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the differences.
Lavrov said he believes the US document “will be leaked” in the media soon and its contents will be made available “to the general public.”
He said Russia has been raising its security concerns about NATO’s expansion eastward since the 1990s, but to no avail.
The minister said the alliance’s expansion contradicts international treaties such as the Istanbul Declaration of 1999 and the Astana Declaration of 2010 between members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
He argued that according to the declarations, states have a right to freely choose their military alliances, but each state is obliged “not to strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.”
“In other words, the right to choose alliances is clearly conditioned by the need to take into account the security interests of any other OSCE states, including the Russian Federation,” he explained.
Lavrov noted that Western countries do not take into account the second principle, while promoting the first one.
“We cannot accept such a situation … we have these written commitments, and they have been confirmed within the OSCE more than once … we will now focus on explaining this crafty position of our Western colleagues,” he said.
Lavrov said he asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about his position, but he only “shrugged his shoulders.”
To clarify the situation, Russia will send official requests to all countries whose leaders have signed the declarations in the near future, he said.
He said Russian authorities are assessing the responses, and will report to President Vladimir Putin, who will make a decision on how to proceed.
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