What the Americans did not understand about the Russians
On Monday, January 10, negotiations took place in the format of interdepartmental delegations of Russia and the United States on security guarantees. The heads of delegations are Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and First Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
"The Russian delegation came here with a clear position, which contains a number of elements, in my opinion, quite understandable and formulated so clearly, including at the highest level, that there simply cannot be deviations from our approaches," Ryabkov emphasized.
Sherman said that the United States would not want to discuss European security without the participation of allies and partners. The State Department issued a short communiqué that Washington "supports the right of countries to independently choose which unions to join."
Impasse of the "national circle"
Two Russian draft documents, the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on Security Assurances and the Agreement on Security Measures of the Russian Federation and the Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, were discussed, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.
During the negotiations, as expected, the Russian side emphasized the need to ensure the legal, legally binding nature of security guarantees, especially the inadmissibility of further expansion of NATO. This is noted in the press release of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and head of the Russian delegation at these negotiations made a short statement and answered more than two dozen questions from representatives of Russian and foreign media.
In particular, he said after negotiations about the hope that "at least a better, greater understanding will develop in the national circle that this cannot be brought to a standstill and a breakthrough is needed, a real step towards Russia."
At dinner about Ukraine
The negotiations, which lasted about ten hours in general, began on Sunday at dinner and lasted until 19 pm on Monday. It was difficult even for Sergei Ryabkov himself to comment on the content of what was said during these two days. In a few words proposed to the audience "for the seed," the diplomat called the dialogue complex and long, deep and very professional. There were no attempts to embellish and bypass sharp corners. The Americans studied Russian proposals and were ready for negotiations.
The Russian side used the meeting to explain the logic of its proposals. Firstly, she confirmed that obtaining legal guarantees for the non-expansion of NATO is an "absolute imperative." Secondly, it was about the non-placement of strike weapons systems near the borders of Russia. Thirdly, about NATO's refusal to "material development" of the territories of countries that joined the alliance after the signing of the Russia-NATO Fundamental Act in 1997. Ryabkov called the progress in these three areas a condition for continuing work on all other issues. For all its importance, "the Foreign Minister added.
Ryabkov did not ignore the claims and threats voiced by the US administration regarding the concentration of Russian troops along the borders of Ukraine. He repeated that Russia "has no and cannot have plans for an" attack "on Ukraine. There is no reason to fear an "escalatory" scenario either. All activities in areas adjacent to the territory of Ukraine are carried out within the Russian national territory and as part of maintaining the combat readiness of the Russian armed forces.
Dialogue - hope for optimism
The success of the negotiations should enhance strategic stability. So it was possible to understand the Russian diplomat, who said that the negotiations in Geneva became a "special emergency session" of the dialogue on strategic stability. But the topic of security guarantees only partially intersects with the content of the dialogue on strategic stability between Russia and the United States. But in the first place were the issues of "security guarantees."
Sergei Ryabkov noted that the parties agreed to determine how to continue work on the already agreed areas of dialogue on strategic stability following the results of negotiations with NATO in Brussels and negotiations in Vienna within the OSCE. We can somehow assume that if the United States and NATO refuse to fulfill the "three points" of the Russian proposals on which Russia expects to receive legal guarantees, it may affect the course of the dialogue on strategic stability, even the continuation of this process itself.
Ryabkov said that the Russian side calls on the United States to "maximum responsibility," that the risks of an increase in confrontation cannot be underestimated. In his opinion, professional dialogue with the American side leaves room for optimism. At the same time, there is no feeling that the negotiating partners understand the need and the full importance of agreements on Russia's proposals.
Without ambiguous interpretation
The proposals are that NATO should return to the agreements with Russia developed in 1997. The fundamental act of Russia - NATO naturally "allowed" the expansion of the alliance, based on the principle of "the right to choose ways to ensure their own security." Russia was reassured that collective defense would not require "additional permanent deployment of significant combat forces."
And most importantly, sedative: "Any actions taken by Russia or NATO jointly, or individually, should comply with the UN Charter and OSCE principles." But the United States, leading NATO, decided to withdraw from all these agreements. The Russia-NATO Council ceased to meet, "could not agree on an agenda." In 2021, relations between Moscow and the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels were officially terminated and the representation of Russia was closed.
"I would really hate to face a situation where NATO countries led by the United States will make such a mistake and again act to the detriment of their own security and the security of the entire European continent," Ryabkov said.
The "three key areas" formulated in the draft documents submitted to the United States on December 15 last year allow for any ambiguous interpretations.
Ryabkov called the publication of these projects the intention of Russia to "put cards on the table," evidence that Moscow "says what it thinks." Diplomacy, he said, involves compromises and a balance of interests. Finding such a balance is possible. But in the Russian scale of priorities, the "three directions" are in first place, from which Russia cannot retreat. According to Ryabkov, there is a base for agreements.
Who isn't taught by history
"Those who say that Russia took a position expressly rigid are right. But those who claim that Russia went on the way of promotion of ultimatums aren't right" - Sergei Ryabkov told during answers to questions. Russia supports arrangements and offers a concrete way to how to make it diplomacy continued the role as the instrument of preservation of peace.
Moscow doesn't threaten with consequences if to agree it won't turn out. Whereas from the American side and the EU it is about "the price which Russia should pay" in a case, "if she makes or won't make something. As though they are taught to nothing by history. Such conversation in principle is unacceptable for us", - Ryabkov told.
It also is, according to him, the ultimatum, blackmail, intimidation. Besides these "tools" and sanctions "in an arsenal of the West it isn't enough that remained, even the ability to agree is lost". Ryabkov told that this "skill to agree" it is possible to restore that Russia is capable to make it.
On the key question concerning not expansion of NATO, there is no progress. "It demonstrates that the American side underestimates gravity of the events" — I explained to the deputy minister, having added that if the situation doesn't change, "Russia will consider her taking into account all set of factors".
Russia needs guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of NATO, Ryabkov said. "We emphasize that for us it is absolutely obligatory - to make sure that Ukraine will never become the member of NATO. We wish at the Madrid NATO summit the formula accepted by the Bucharest summit in 2008 would be withdrawn and replaced with the following: "Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of the North Atlantic Alliance", - the Russian diplomat told journalists.
"To us bothered to carry on insignificant talks, from semi-promises, from the wrong interpretation that often occurred at negotiations behind closed doors. We don't trust other party. Reinforced concrete, legally significant guarantees, not promises, namely guarantees are necessary for us, with words "have to", "are obliged", never to become members of NATO. It is a national security issue of Russia", - he emphasized.
But the situation isn't hopeless, - Sergei Ryabkov noticed. Discussed all issues, including those that "were off-screen". Everything will depend on meeting results in a multilateral format on January 12, but also there is no agenda here agreed, the Russian diplomat complained.
The main task for Washington to secure itself, to avoid pressure of the arisen strategic disparity in strategic arms. Concern was about it shown in readiness of the White House to govern the relations in the field of nuclear safety, strategic stability, cyber security. The USA has no geographical invulnerability for a long time. Washington should overestimate thoroughly priorities of national security, to choose between own interests and expansion of NATO in east direction.
On the eve of 2022 the president Vladimir Putin tried to help the president Joe Biden to find answers to these questions. "Questions of implementation of the agreement on start of negotiations on providing legal safeguards of safety of Russia reached during a videoconference on December 7 became the main topic of conversation", - it is noted in the press release following the results of phone call of presidents.
The Kremlin reported that according to draft agreements from the USA and NATO detailed explanations were made. It is confirmed that Russia intends to obtain "the firm legal safeguards excluding advance of NATO to the East and deployment of the menacing systems of arms in close proximity to the Russian borders". It was confirmed that safety and Russia, and the USA can be provided only on the basis of respect for the principle of indivisibility of safety, legally issued arrangements.
Today, care of own safety rose for the USA on the first place. The consent of the president Biden to extension of the START-3 confirms it. Plans of NATO for military development of Ukraine contradict it. Negotiations at the level of the assistant concerning the national U.S. President Jake Sullivan and the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolay Patrushev became attempt these divergences to eliminate.
Russian Presidents and the USA agreed to keep under personal control the course of discussions on all negotiation tracks, and, especially in Geneva where the bilateral Russia-USA format was aimed at the fastest achievement of concrete results. Whether they will be known? Whether will be in general? How soon, if are?
As Sergei Ryabkov noticed, "the flight task" for the Russian delegation at negotiations in Geneva was formulated with the requirement to achieve results without delays. It seems that urgency of the solution of all collected questions was succeeded to inform the American delegation and the hope for a next round of negotiations remains.