Moscow demands NATO pulls back as fears of Russia invading Ukraine rise

Moscow demands NATO pulls back as fears of Russia invading Ukraine rise
Copyright KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP or licensors
Copyright KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP or licensors
By Daniel Bellamy with AP
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Moscow wants NATO to pledge that former Soviet states will never join the bloc and that its forces will pull back from Russia's borders.


Russia may take new measures to ensure its security if the US and its allies continue to take provocative action. 

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday that the unspecified measures will be brought on if the alliance decides to ignore Moscow’s demands for guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine.

Ryabkov accused Western allies of continuously pushing the envelope in relations with Russia, and warned that Moscow could also up the ante if the West doesn’t treat its demands seriously.

“They have been extending the limits of what’s possible” regarding Russia, Ryabkov told Interfax in response to a question about the Western threat of tough new sanctions against Moscow.

“But they fail to consider that we will take care of our security and act in a way similar to NATO’s logic and also will start extending the limits of what is possible sooner or late,” Ryabkov said. “We will find all the necessary ways, means and solutions needed to ensure our security.”

Ryabkov’s statement in an interview with the Interfax news agency came a day after Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries. 

The draft also asked for a roll-back of the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe — bold ultimatums that are almost certain to be rejected by the US and its allies.

The publication of the demands — contained in a proposed Russia-US security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO — comes amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has raised fears of an invasion. 

Russia has denied it has plans to attack its neighbour but it now wants legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and deploying weapons there.

Russian president Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with his US counterpart Joe Biden. 

During the conversation, Biden voiced his concern about a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned Putin that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbour.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg emphasized on Friday that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account the trans-Atlantic alliance’s concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. 

The White House similarly said it is discussing the proposals with its allies and partners, but noted that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.

Ryabkov said that NATO’s moves have become increasingly provocative, describing them as “balancing on the edge of war.” 

He added that Russia now wants to hear a Western response before upping the ante.

“We don’t want a conflict. We want to reach an agreement on a reasonable basis,” he said. 

“Before making any conclusions on what to do next and what steps could be taken, we need to make sure that the answer is negative. I hope that the answer will be relatively constructive and we engage in talks,” Ryabkov pointed out.

He said that the deployment of NATO’s troops near Russia in the Baltic and Black Sea regions have challenged Russia’s core security interests, adding that “no one should underestimate Moscow’s resolve in protecting its national security interests.”


Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and shortly after cast its support behind a separatist rebellion in the country’s east. More than seven years of fighting saw over 14,000 people killed, while the war ravaged Ukraine’s industrial heartland, known as the Donbas.

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