Russia calls on NATO to leave Eastern Europe and stay out of former USSR

FILE IMAGE. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on arrival for a meeting with US special envoy Marshall Billingslea in Vienna, Austria. June 22, 2020. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday it wants legally binding guarantees that the NATO military alliance will renounce any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, under a wish list of ambitious security safeguards. who wants to negotiate with the West.

The demands form a package that, according to Moscow, is an essential requirement to reduce tensions in Europe and defuse the crisis around Ukraine, in which Western countries accuse Russia of preparing for a possible attack, something that it denies.

They also contain elements – such as Russia’s effective veto of Ukraine’s NATO membership – that the West has already ruled out.

Introducing the demands in detail for the first time, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the media that Russia and the West must start from scratch to rebuild their relations.

“The line followed by the United States and NATO in recent years to aggravate the security situation is absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous,” he said.

“Washington and its NATO allies must immediately halt regular hostile actions against our country, including unscheduled exercises … and maneuvers of military ships and aircraft, and halt the military development of Ukrainian territory,” he added .

Ryabkov said Russia is unwilling to continue to put up with the current situation and urged the United States to take the proposals seriously and quickly give a constructive response. He added that Moscow is ready to start talks as early as Saturday, with Geneva as a possible venue, and that its negotiating team is ready.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States saw the proposals and is speaking with its allies. “There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn, Maxim Rodionov and Tom Balmforth; written by Mark Trevelyan; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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