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Russia is ready for security talks with West if they don’t scuttle Russia’s demands

Lavrov said the West was now presenting Russia’s proposals, which it had rejected over the past two or three years, as its own

MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Russia is ready for talks that the West offered to conduct on certain security issues if it doesn’t mean putting aside the country’s crucial demands such as halting NATO’s eastward expansion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

"We believe it’s a positive step and will be ready for this dialogue but not at the expense of clarification of the principled issues of our position, which concern the need to put a stop to NATO’s headlong expansion to the east and look for other ways of providing security for all the Euro-Atlantic countries," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "has talked about it in detail during his press conferences," Lavrov said, following talks with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franca and Russian-Brazilian consultations of defense and foreign ministers.

Lavrov said the West is now presenting Russia’s proposals, which it rejected over the past two or three years, as its own.

"Now that we have brought the issue of security in Europe into focus, [the West] is forced to agree to them and even presented them as its own initiatives," he said.

In particular, Lavrov said he referred to the proposal by Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a moratorium on the deployment of medium-range and short-range missiles in Europe, as well as some initiatives from the General Staff that were submitted to NATO for consideration, including confidence-building measures and military dialogue.

"Now the West has outlined all these areas in its responses, which we received, expressing readiness to conduct a serious dialogue on these issues," he said.

On Monday, Putin and Lavrov discussed the response by the US and NATO to Russian proposals for long-term, legally binding security guarantees. When asked by the head of state whether there is a chance to reach an agreement on issues of concern with Western partners, the minister answered in the affirmative, saying that "there is always a chance." He added that the Russian response to the proposals of Washington and Brussels is ready. According to Lavrov, the draft is laid out on 10 pages. On Tuesday, the minister said that Russia would soon publish its response.

On January 26, the US and NATO submitted their written responses to the proposals for security assurances. The US asked that the texts of these documents not be made public, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outlined their main provisions. According to these statements, the West did not make concessions that were crucial for Russia, but set out areas for further talks.