Note: The website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs might be under DDoS as I cannot reach it. The following is therefore a UNOFFICIAL machine translation of the Russian reply:
The Russian Foreign Ministry has published a written response to the American written response to Russian claims on security guarantees in Europe.
On February 17, 2022, US Ambassador John Sullivan, invited to the Russian Foreign Ministry, was given the following reaction to the previously received American response on the Russian draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on security guarantees.
TASS publishes the full text of the statement.
We state that the American side did not give a constructive response to the basic elements of the draft security guarantees agreement prepared by the Russian side with the United States. We are talking about the rejection of further expansion of NATO, the withdrawal of the “Bucharest formula” that “Ukraine and Georgia will become members of NATO”, and the refusal to create military bases on the territory of states that were previously part of the USSR and are not members of the alliance, including the use of their infrastructure for conducting any military activity, as well as the return of military capabilities, including shock, and NATO infrastructure to the state of 1997, when the Founding Act of Russia — NATO was signed. These provisions are of fundamental importance for the Russian Federation.
The package nature of Russian proposals has been ignored, from which “convenient” topics have been deliberately chosen, which, in turn, are “twisted” in the direction of creating advantages for the United States and its allies. This approach, as well as the accompanying rhetoric of American officials, reinforces reasonable doubts that Washington is really committed to correcting the situation in the field of Euro-security.
The growing military activity of the United States and NATO directly at the Russian borders is alarming, while our “red lines” and fundamental security interests, as well as Russia’s sovereign right to protect them, continue to be ignored. Ultimatum demands to withdraw troops from certain areas on Russian territory, accompanied by threats of tougher sanctions, are unacceptable and undermine the prospects of reaching real agreements.
In the absence of the readiness of the American side to agree on firm, legally binding guarantees of ensuring our security by the United States and its allies, Russia will be forced to respond, including through the implementation of military-technical measures.
There is no “Russian invasion” of Ukraine, as the United States and its allies have been officially declaring since last autumn, and there are no plans, therefore, statements about “Russia’s responsibility for escalation” cannot be regarded otherwise than as an attempt to exert pressure and devalue Russia’s proposals for security guarantees.
The mention in this context of the Russian obligations under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 has nothing to do with the internal Ukrainian conflict and does not apply to the circumstances resulting from the actions of internal factors there. The loss of territorial integrity by the Ukrainian state is the result of the processes that took place inside it.
The accusations of Russia contained in the American response that it “occupied Crimea” also do not stand up to any criticism. In 2014, a coup took place in Kiev, the initiators of which, with the support of the United States and their allies, set a course for the creation of a nationalist state that infringes on the rights of the Russian and Russian-speaking population, as well as other “non-titular” ethnic groups. It is not surprising that in such a situation, Crimeans voted for reunification with Russia. The decision of the people of Crimea and Sevastopol to return to the Russian Federation was made by free expression of will in the exercise of the right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter. Force or threat of force was not used. The question of Crimea’s ownership is closed.
If Ukraine is accepted into NATO, there will be a real threat that the regime in Kiev will try to “return” Crimea by force, dragging the United States and its allies, in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, into a direct armed conflict with Russia with all the ensuing consequences.
The thesis repeated in the US response that Russia allegedly “ignited the conflict in the Donbas” is untenable. Its reasons are purely intra-Ukrainian in nature. The settlement is possible only through the implementation of the Minsk agreements and a set of measures, the priority and responsibility for the implementation of which are clearly spelled out and unanimously confirmed by UN Security Council resolution 2202, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom. In paragraph 2 of this resolution, Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk are named as parties. None of these documents mention Russia’s responsibility for the conflict in the Donbas. Russia, together with the OSCE, plays the role of mediator in the main negotiating format – the contact group – and together with Berlin and Paris – in the “Normandy format”, which formulates recommendations to the parties to the conflict and monitors their implementation.
To de-escalate the situation around Ukraine, it is fundamentally important to take the following steps. This is forcing Kiev to implement a set of measures, stopping the supply of weapons to Ukraine, withdrawing all Western advisers and instructors from there, the refusal of NATO countries from any joint exercises with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the withdrawal of all foreign weapons previously supplied to Kiev outside Ukrainian territory.
In this regard, we draw attention to the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a press conference following talks in Moscow with French President Emmanuel Macron on February 7, 2022, stressed that we are open to dialogue and urge “to think about stable security conditions for everyone, equal for all participants in international life.”
We note that in their response to the Russian proposals, the United States insists that progress in improving the situation in the field of European security “can only be achieved in terms of de-escalation in relation to Russia’s threatening actions directed against Ukraine,” which, as we understand, implies the requirement to withdraw Russian troops from the borders of Ukraine. At the same time, the United States is ready to talk only about “mutual obligations … to refrain from deploying permanent-based forces with combat missions on the territory of Ukraine” and “consider discussing the problem of conventional armed forces.” Otherwise, the American side remains silent about our proposals contained in paragraphs 2 of Article 4 and paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the draft bilateral treaty and declares that “the current configuration of the US and NATO forces is limited, proportional and fully complies with the obligations under the NATO-Russia Founding Act.”
We proceed from the fact that the deployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on its territory does not and cannot affect the fundamental interests of the United States. We would like to remind you that there are no our forces on the territory of Ukraine.
At the same time, the United States and its allies were advancing their military infrastructure to the east, deploying contingents in the territories of new members. They circumvented the limitations of the CFE Treaty and interpreted very loosely the provisions of the Russia—NATO Founding Act on the rejection of “additional permanent deployment of substantial combat forces.” The situation that has developed as a result of these actions is unacceptable. We insist on the withdrawal of all US armed forces and weapons stationed in CEE, SEE and the Baltic States. We are convinced that there are quite enough national potentials in these zones. We are ready to discuss this topic on the basis of art. 4 and 5 of the Russian draft agreement.
The principle of indivisibility of security
We did not see any evidence in the US response that the American side is fully committed to observing the immutable principle of indivisibility of security. The general statements about the consideration of this postulate by the American side are in direct contradiction with Washington’s unwillingness to abandon a counterproductive and destabilizing course to create advantages for itself and its allies at the expense of Russia’s security interests. This is precisely what is happening as a result of the unrestrained implementation by the North Atlantic Alliance, with the leading role of the United States, of the policy of unlimited geostrategic and military development of the post-Soviet space, including the territory of Ukraine, which is particularly sensitive for us. All this is happening directly on the Russian borders. Thus, our “red lines” and fundamental security interests are ignored, and Russia’s inalienable right to ensure them is rejected. For us, of course, this is unacceptable.
Additionally, we remind you that this principle is enshrined in the preamble of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms of 2011, the extension of which for five years without any exceptions was agreed by the parties in February last year, as well as in a number of OSCE and Russia—NATO basic documents adopted at the highest level: in the preamble of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe of 1990, the Founding Act of Russia — NATO of 1997, the Istanbul Charter of European Security of the OSCE of 1999, the Rome Declaration of Russia-NATO of 2002 and the Astana Declaration of the OSCE Summit of 2010.
We note that the response received mentions Washington’s commitment to the concept of indivisibility of security. But in the text, it boils down to the right of states “to freely choose or change ways to ensure their security, including union treaties.” This freedom is not absolute and is only half of the well-known formula fixed in the Charter of European Security. Its second part requires, when exercising this right, not to “… strengthen one’s security at the expense of the security of other States.” We cannot consider the letter received from NATO dated February 10, 2022 as a response to the message sent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on January 28, 2022 to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on this issue. We asked for an answer in a national capacity.
NATO’s “open door” policy
The US confirms its “firm support” for NATO’s “open door” policy. But it contradicts the basic commitments made within the framework of the CSCE/OSCE, first of all, the obligation “not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of others.” This policy is not consistent with the guidelines of the alliance itself, which, following a meeting of the NATO Ministry of Defense on June 6-7, 1991 in Copenhagen, pledged “not to extract unilateral advantages from the changed situation in Europe,” “not to threaten the legitimate interests” of other states, not to seek their “isolation” or “drawing new dividing lines on the continent.”
We call on the United States and NATO to return to fulfilling their international obligations in the field of maintaining peace and security. We expect concrete proposals from the alliance members on the content and forms of legal consolidation of the refusal to further expand NATO to the East.
Package nature of offers
We note the readiness of the United States to work in detail on individual measures for arms control and risk reduction. At the same time, it was recorded that Washington finally recognized the validity of a number of Russian proposals and initiatives in these areas that have been put forward in recent years.
At the same time, we once again draw the attention of the American side to the fact that Russia, in the documents we submitted on security guarantees, proposed to follow the path of a comprehensive long-term settlement of the unacceptable situation that continues to develop in the Euro-Atlantic area. First of all, we are talking about creating a stable foundation for the security architecture in the form of an agreement on NATO’s refusal from further actions that harm Russia’s security. This remains a constant imperative for us. In the absence of such a strong foundation, interrelated measures to control arms and reduce military risks, ensuring restraint and predictability of military activities in certain areas, even if they can be agreed upon, will not be sustainable in the future.
Thus, the Russian proposals are of a package nature and should be considered in a complex without highlighting its individual components.
In this regard, we would like to focus on the lack of a constructive reaction from Washington and Brussels to the most important elements of the Russian initiative that we have clearly identified. As for the issues of arms control, we consider them exclusively in the general context of a comprehensive, package approach to resolving the problem of security guarantees.
“Post-DSNV” (Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms) and “safety equation”
The United States offers to “immediately” engage in the development of “measures for the development of the Strategic Stability Treaty” within the framework of the strategic stability dialogue. However, at the same time, the American side is trying to fix an approach that is not coordinated with us, which provides for focusing exclusively on nuclear weapons, and regardless of the ability of certain means to pose a direct threat to the national territory of the other side. Such a one-sided view of things contradicts the understandings reached at the Russian-American summit on June 16, 2021 in Geneva regarding the comprehensive nature of the strategic dialogue, designed to lay the foundation for future arms control and risk reduction measures.
Russia continues to advocate an integrated approach to strategic issues. We propose to work together to develop a new “security equation”.
The set of elements of our proposed concept, which remains fully relevant, was brought to the American side, including during meetings within the framework of the stratdialog and in the working document on its content submitted by us on December 17, 2021.
Deployment of nuclear weapons outside national territory
In its document, the United States did not react to such an element of the “package” of measures proposed by us as the withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed outside its borders to the national territory and the refusal of their further deployment outside the national territory, and limited itself to mentioning the need to address the problem of non-strategic nuclear weapons on the platform of strategic dialogue, without taking into account the specifics of its deployment and other factors affecting the security of the parties.
We would like to clarify that in our proposals we are talking about solving the problem of the presence on the territory of some non-nuclear NATO states – in violation of the NPT – of US nuclear weapons that are capable of hitting targets on the territory of Russia. This would include the elimination of the infrastructure for the rapid deployment of such weapons in Europe, as well as the cessation of the NATO practice of training and exercises on the handling of these weapons, which involve non-nuclear NATO member states. It is impossible to discuss the topic of non-strategic nuclear weapons without eliminating this irritant.
Medium- and shorter-range ground-based missiles
We consider this issue as one of the priorities of the Russian-American dialogue on strategic stability. We believe that this category of weapons is a necessary component of a new “security equation” that should be jointly developed by Russia and the United States.
We continue to proceed from the relevance of Russian initiatives in the field of “post-INF”, which are based on the idea of counter-verifiable moratoriums on the deployment of ground-based INF in Europe.
In principle, we are open to substantive consideration of ways of its practical implementation. At the same time, we note the continuing uncertainty in Washington’s approaches to the main parameters of potential control measures over these weapons, first of all, to their coverage, which should apply to all means of the appropriate range in nuclear and non–nuclear equipment.
It was fixed that the United States takes the Russian approach as a basis, which provides for the mutual settlement of counter-concerns in the context of the previously existing INF Treaty. The variant proposed by the American side of the development of our idea of mutual verification measures in relation to the Aegis Ashore complexes in Romania and Poland, as well as some facilities in the European part of Russia, can be further taken into consideration.
As was emphasized in the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 26, 2020 and subsequently repeatedly brought to the American side, potential transparency measures regarding Russian facilities subject to approval could include monitoring the absence of the Russian 9M729 missile there. We remind you that this step is a manifestation of goodwill, given that the characteristics of the 9M729 missile in no way contradict the requirements of the former INF Treaty and that the United States has not provided any evidence that would confirm the accusations against Russia. At the same time, the American side ignored the voluntary event organized by us during the validity of this Agreement on January 23, 2019 to demonstrate the device and technical characteristics of the 9M729 rocket and its launcher.
Heavy bombers and surface warships
We note the attention of the American side to the Russian idea of additional risk reduction measures in relation to flights of heavy bombers near the national borders of the parties. We see a subject for discussion and the potential for mutually acceptable agreements.
We remind you of an equally important element of our “package” proposal concerning similar campaigns of combat surface ships, which also involve serious risks.
Military exercises and maneuvers
The United States did not respond to the proposals contained in paragraph 2 of Article 4 of the Russian draft treaty. The American side, apparently, proceeds from the fact that it is possible to reduce tensions in the military field by increasing transparency and additional measures to reduce the danger in line with Western proposals to modernize the Vienna Document.
We consider this approach unrealistic and one-sided, aimed at “shining a light” on the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Confidence- and security-building measures within the framework of the Vienna Document of 2011 are adequate to the current situation. To start discussing the possibility of updating them, the necessary conditions must be created. And for this, the United States and its allies should abandon the policy of “containing” Russia and take concrete practical measures to de-escalate the military-political situation, including in line with paragraph 2 of Article 4 of our draft treaty.
As for the prevention of incidents on the high seas and the airspace above it, we welcome the readiness of the United States for appropriate consultations. However, this work cannot replace the settlement of the key problems posed by Russia.
February 17, 2022