Wednesday, 12 January 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Monday’s negotiations over Russian security demands between the U.S. and Russia were, as predicted, a failure.
Russia’s core demand, to end the NATO drive to its borders by excluding membership for the Ukraine and Georgia, was rejected. A for once realistic NYT piece did not even try to hide the disaster:
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov, Russia’s lead negotiator, insisted after the meeting that it was “absolutely mandatory” that Ukraine “never, never, ever” become a NATO member.
His American counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, reiterated that the United States could never make such a pledge because “we will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open door policy,” and she said that the United States and its allies would not stand by if Russia sought to change international borders “by force.”
Today’s talk between all NATO members and Russia in Brussels had similar results. Russia’s core requests were rejected and a bunch of stuff with which NATO would like to restrict Russian advantages was thrown up to divert the attention from the core issues.
As NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summarized it:
Today Russia raised the proposals that they published in December, aimed at addressing their security concerns.
These include demands to stop admitting any new members to NATO. And to withdraw forces from eastern Allies.
Allies on their side reaffirmed NATO’s Open Door policy. And the right for each nation to choose its own security arrangements.
Okay then. Russia will certainly choose its own security arrangements. And NATO will not like to see them.
The NATO wishlist for future talk includes these items:
Allies would like to discuss concrete ways to increase the transparency of military exercises, to prevent dangerous military incidents, and reduce space and cyber threats.
Allies have also offered to look at arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Including to address reciprocal limitations on missiles, and to address nuclear policies.
On lines of communications, NATO Allies are interested in looking at ways to improve civil and military communications channels, and the possibility of re-establishing our respective offices in Moscow and Brussels.
None of those have any priority for Russia and, as it will surely point out, it was NATO which in October initiated the breaking off of civil and military communications channels by expelling 8 members of Russia’s NATO mission in Brussels
The alliance has also halved the size of the Russian mission to NATO, headquartered in Brussels, from twenty to ten accredited positions — the eight expelled Russian officials plus two other positions that will now be abolished.
Russia reacted to that outrageous behavior by closing its outpost in Brussels.
After the meeting today Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman added a new U.S. demand to her list:
Sherman, the number two State Department official who is leading the U.S. delegation in separate meetings in Europe this week, said the NATO-Russia meeting ended with “a sober challenge” for Russia “to de escalate tensions, choose the path of diplomacy, to continue to engage in honest and reciprocal dialogue so that together we can identify solutions that enhance the security of all.”
The deputy secretary said that the Russian delegation did not commit, nor reject, NATO offers for follow-up discussions. The delegation further made no commitment to de-escalate, Sherman said, but added that they did not reject de-escalation.
“Russia’s actions have caused this crisis and it is on Russia to de-escalate tensions and give diplomacy the chance to succeed… There was no commitment to de-escalate. Nor was there a statement that there would not be.”
There is nothing to de-escalate. A number of Russian troops stationed within Russia are training to guard Russian borders. They have always done so and will continue to do that. It is the U.S., not Russia, which is exaggerating their number, today with ‘additional helicopters‘ which no one has seen:
While troop movements have slowed, there are still 100,000 military personnel near the border and now the Russians have positioned additional attack aircraft there, American officials said. Attack and transport helicopters, along with ground attack fighter jets, would be a critical Russian advantage, should Mr. Putin decide to invade Ukraine.
Alexander Mercouris points out (vid) that the U.S. started the current affair when it, in March 2021, pushed the Ukraine to restart a war against it rebellious eastern Donbas provinces. Russia responded by quickly building up and showing off a force large enough to destroy the Ukrainian army.
That calmed down the Ukrainian issue for a while but the U.S. and NATO continued to pressure Russia with bomber flights near Russia’s borders and warships in the Black Sea. What did they expect but a Russian response?
There is nothing the U.S. can do about troop positioning within Russia. Exaggerating their numbers only builds more pressure. The constant false lamenting about ‘Russian military build-ups’ don’t help to calm things down.
The ‘de-escalation’ has to happen on the U.S. side. Otherwise it will be Russia which has to escalate. That is the warning Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has given to U.S. President Joe Biden. But it does not seem that the U.S. has come to understand that.
The talks will fail as the ‘western’ side is rejecting the main requests Russia has. The promised ‘military-technical measures’ will be implemented in Europe, Asia and probably also in Latin America. Given that Russia has throughout the last decade presented a number of revolutionary weapon designs we can expect some new surprises which the U.S. will be unable to match.
Fact is that Russia is capable to defend itself and its allies from military attacks and U.S. instigated color revolution attempts like in Belarus and Kazakhstan.
That the U.S. does not like that is not Russia’s problem.