BRUSSELS, January 13. /TASS/. The discussions that Russia and the West had at Wednesday’s meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, the first such event since 2019, were useful and direct. They have not led to any agreements but made it possible for the parties to understand each other’s position and realize that Russia and NATO still view fundamental issues differently. Russia expects the United States and other NATO countries to give a written response to Moscow’s security initiatives, and will decide whether it is reasonable to continue talks or move to other measures to ensure national security. To sum up the event, TASS has put together the key statements of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and the Russian Defense Ministry.
Response to proposals
Grushko pointed out that Russia had clarified all of its concerns at the meeting and called on the other party to commit its proposals to paper. The senior Russian diplomat added that there were reasons to expect NATO members to do it in the near future but it was too early to talk about further contacts.
The Russian deputy foreign minister noted that Moscow would consider restoring its permanent mission to NATO, provided that the alliance changed its policy and abandoned attempts to raise tensions. He also stressed that Russia would not allow anyone to make decisions about its diplomatic presence.
De-escalation in Ukraine
Grushko stated that in the four-hour meeting, discussions of the Ukraine issue had lasted one and a half hours. He also said that de-escalation in the country was possible based on the Minsk Agreements. However, he emphasized the need to make Kiev fully implement its obligations under the accords. The Russian diplomat added that once it was done, "there will be no threat to Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity." According to him, if NATO is really interested in de-escalation, it should stop providing any kind of military assistance to Ukraine, including weapons supplies, and withdraw inspectors, instructors, officers and soldiers.
Political and military tools
Grushko also told reporters that Moscow could not accept NATO’s approach to the principle of indivisible security as the alliance viewed it "as the indivisible security of NATO member states." He pointed out that ignoring the interests of other countries and trying to build a security system "against Russia" and without Russia would lead to nothing. Moreover, in his words, Russia will use all the tools that it has to ensure its security, including political and military ones. The deputy foreign minister stressed that Russia would respond with a policy of counter-deterrence to NATO’s policy of deterrence and with counter-intimidation to intimidation. "If it’s about searching for vulnerabilities in Russia's defense system, we will look for NATO’s vulnerabilities. It’s not our choice but if we fail to overturn the current dangerous course of events, there will be no other option," Grushko said, adding that it would be better to overcome the crisis by finding "a reasonable balance of interests."
Expansion as a threat
Grushko noted that one of Russia’s core demands was that NATO put an end to its eastward expansion, namely to former Soviet countries. According to him, the necessary element of the agenda was the need for NATO to give legal guarantees that it would not expand to the east.
Defense Ministry’s remarks
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, in turn, clarified Russia’s views of the current European security situation and the military aspects of Russia’s draft agreement on security guarantees, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry. Fomin stated that "Russia-NATO relations have reached a critically low level" amid global instability, the threat of terrorism, a looming arms race and the decay of the European security architecture. According to the Defense Ministry, Russia emphasized at the meeting that it "has repeatedly called on the alliance to take measures to ease tensions" but NATO gave no response, which created conditions for incidents and conflicts.
Issues to resolve
The Russian Defense Ministry said that in such a situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a decision to send Moscow’s draft agreements on legally binding security guarantees to the United States and NATO. The ministry listed the key issues that required solutions. First, it is the need for NATO to guarantee that it will not expand to the east. Second, it is about obligations not to deploy more US intermediate and short-range missiles to Europe because such a move may dramatically worsen the security situation on the continent. Third, it is about restricting military activities in Europe and steps to increase the size of the so-called forward deployed forces. "Russia expects to hold constructive discussions in order to promptly prepare agreements on security guarantees," the ministry’s statement quoted Fomin as saying.