MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. The United States will not agree to conclude the legally binding agreements on the security guarantees Russia has proposed, but it is quite possible that Moscow and Washington might come to terms in the field of arms control, the deputy director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the Higher School of Economics, expert of the Valdai Discussion Club Dmitry Suslov told TASS.
Russia hopes to get a written reply from the United States this week regarding the results of the negotiations held on January 10 and 12.
"I expect the answer to be identical to the public statements that followed the Geneva and Brussels talks. Most likely, the United States will express its readiness to discuss military-technical issues with Russia, but at the same time it will declare categorical refusal to reconsider NATO’s open-door policy. Also, it may refer to such documents as the Paris Charter for a New Europe, which proclaims the rights of sovereign countries to decide on their own whether to join this or that military alliance," the expert speculated.
Suslov called for distinguishing between purely political security guarantee agreements that may concern the fundamental principles of European security and those on military-technical issues.
"As for the political aspects, such as NATO’s non-expansion, any attempts to obtain some legally binding guarantees from the United States are doomed in principle. Washington is utterly irreconcilable and adamant," he explained.
In his opinion, at best Washington can be persuaded to make a political declaration "in verbal form, and not in writing, that NATO will not expand to Ukraine."
"Hypothetically this is possible, but for that Russia will have to resort to considerable military pressures on the United States and further expand military cooperation with China. In other words, to make the United States’ current policy far more costly," the analyst said.
Suslov stressed that any legally binding guarantees from the United States would be very hard to obtain by virtue of the acute polarization of the US political system.
"Ratification in the United States requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, in other words, 67 votes. This implies bipartisan voting. In the meantime, the Democrats and the Republicans are harshly split," the expert said. "We can see the Republicans use the dialogue with Russia as an instrument of political struggle against the Joe Biden Administration. A legally binding decision on strategic stability matters will be very hard to achieve. And ensuring such an agreement’s ratification will be still harder.
Progress on strategic stability
Suslov sees better chances for an agreement between Russia and the United States on the issue of arms control, for instance, the deployment of missiles and conventional weapons in Europe, as well as devising some new solution for intermediate and shorter-range missiles.
"The United States has expressed its interest and readiness to negotiate on such issues. On the other hand, Russia for the time being says that such issues are of secondary importance in contrast to political ones, for one, NATO’s non-enlargement, and that it is not interested at all to conclude agreements with the United States only on military aspects, detached from political ones," Suslov said.
Such agreements might be possible only if Moscow agreed to reconsider its stance - and this is very unlikely in the near future.
The political analyst stressed that a further escalation of tensions in Russia’s relations with the West was a "very probable scenario".
"There will not necessarily be a military escalation. It will be essential to raise the political, military and reputational costs for the United States its current policy, if continued, will entail," he stressed. Suslov did not rule out the adoption of some "political statements that might ease tensions."
"If the United States says outright that it is not going to invite Ukraine to join NATO, then some arms control agreements may become possible," he speculated.
Security guarantee negotiations
On December 17, 2021 the Russian Foreign Ministry published drafts of a treaty with the United States on security guarantees and also an agreement on measures of ensuring the security of Russia and the NATO member-states. Consultations on these issues were held in Geneva on January 10. On January 12, the Russia-NATO Council met in session in Brussels, and on January 13 there was a session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. The initiatives in question were examined.