WASHINGTON, January 15. /TASS/. NATO’s eastward expansion is one of the major threats to Russia’s national security, as the flight time to cities in the country’s European part is becoming shorter, Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in an interview with Newsweek.
The interview was posted on the Facebook page of the Russian embassy to the US on Saturday.
"The continuing advance of the North Atlantic bloc to the east is one of the main threats to Russia's national security. As the bloc approaches our border proper, the flight time of NATO air and missile weapons to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in the European part of the country is reduced," Antonov said. "How would the US Government react if Washington, New York or Los Angeles were 'under the bombsight'?".
The ambassador said that the talks focused on the ways to preserve peace and stability in Europe by working out security guarantees based on draft agreements proposed by Moscow.
"After the collapse of the USSR, the security situation in Europe deteriorated sharply. Five ‘waves’ of NATO expansion have brought the Alliance States forces closer to our borders," he stated.
"NATO is constantly building up its offensive potential, demonstrating military force along the perimeter of the Russian territory. Every year, about 40 major exercises are held in the immediate vicinity of Russia's borders, including training cruise missile launches by strategic aviation and naval maneuvers in the Black and Baltic Seas," the Russian diplomat said.
On Monday, Geneva hosted Russian-US consultations on security guarantees. On Thursday, a Russia-NATO Council meeting was held in Brussels, and a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council was held in Vienna on Thursday.
NATO’s efforts at military development of former Soviet republics
NATO’s efforts, aimed at military development of former Soviet republics, are unacceptable for Moscow, Antonov has told.
"NATO's efforts aimed at the military development of the former Soviet republics are unacceptable to us. This is fraught with the deployment of missile systems and other destabilizing weapons that directly threaten our country. As a result, the risks of escalation and direct military clashes in the region and beyond will increase manifold. Everything has its limits. We are, in fact, on the edge of precipice," the ambassador said.
He went on to say that Russia compiled draft security guarantees "to prevent such a development of the situation."
"It was these documents that were discussed at the Russian-American talks, as well as in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council and the OSCE. Their goal is to put legally binding guarantees on paper that the alliance will refrain from any further expansion to the east and from the deployment of strike weapons in the immediate vicinity of our borders," the Russian diplomat said.
Work with the United States and NATO
Russia will decide on advisability of its further work with the United States and NATO after receiving written responses to its security proposals, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has told.
"It must be admitted that the discussions held last week with the United States and NATO have not yet yielded any significant results," the ambassador said.
"We expect written responses from Washington and Brussels to our draft agreements. Based on them, we will make a decision on the advisability of further joint work," he added.
The situation in Ukraine
Ukraine was not among the issues discussed during the Russia-US talks in Geneva on January 10, but it was mentioned as a secondary topic at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on January 12, Russia’s Ambassador said.
"As for the situation in Ukraine, this issue was not on the agenda of the Russian-American talks in Geneva, but was only mentioned as a secondary topic at consultations with NATO in Brussels," said the Russian diplomat.
On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published draft agreements on security guarantees and measures of ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states, which Moscow expects from Washington and NATO. The two treaties - with the US and NATO, respectively - would, among other things, halt NATO’s eastward expansion, including granting membership to Ukraine, and introduce limits on the deployment of serious offensive weapons, such as nuclear weapons.