RAfter talks this week in Geneva and Brussels, the United States expects the United States and NATO to provide “written responses” to their demands for “security guarantees” made in mid-December. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined this on Friday during his annual press conference in Moscow, which traditionally takes place in January. Lavrov said they expected “a reaction to each of our points,” including the reasons and possible counter-proposals. After receiving the responses, it became clear “whether it makes sense to resume negotiations”.
Talks over Russia’s demands, which include renouncing all NATO expansion and military activity in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, had not led to any rapprochement. Among other things, because Western representatives insist on the principle of state sovereignty. Lavrov referred to the case where “all” of Russia’s demands, and especially the renunciation of any NATO expansion, would be rejected, to President Vladimir Putin, who declared that a “decision would then be taken taking into account account of all factors above all in the interest of reliably guaranteeing the interests of our security ”. In the West, this is seen as a threat of overt invasion of Ukraine; Concentrations of Russian troops on borders with neighboring countries and in Ukrainian Crimea, annexed in 2014, preceded the week’s talks. Russian experts, on the other hand, are counting on the accelerated deployment of new weapons such as supersonic missiles.
Lavrov stressed that they were ready for possible new sanctions from the United States. Washington has promised Moscow punitive measures in the event of further intervention in Ukraine. Before receiving the written responses from the United States and NATO, work will be done to ensure that “we are prepared for any development of events,” said the foreign minister and urged “partners” from Russia to understand that “we do not wait forever”.
Lavrov attaches importance only to talks with the United States
Lavrov said he was particularly unhappy with the discussions held within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, during which representatives of states like Poland, which are directly threatened by Russia. , spoke on Thursday. Lavrov made it clear that Moscow attaches importance only to talks with the United States. All the statements “on the need to consult the allies, to involve all OSCE members in this process” are “excuses and attempts to involve the process”.
Lavrov replied in the affirmative when asked if Moscow respected the sovereignty of Sweden and Finland, but linked the respect to maintaining the “neutrality” of the two states by saying that the “policy of neutrality of these countries “was one of the most important factors in the” guarantee of security on the European continent. “In response to Russian demands – which, according to a common expression, amount to a” finlandisation “of Europe from East like the Cold War – representatives of Sweden and Finland have said they keep the option to join NATO open. Finland and Sweden are already working closely with the alliance and, in response to the annexation of Crimea, signed treaties with the alliance which allow NATO to station troops in their territories. “We have reason to assume that the role of neutral states in European security will not weaken, “Lavrov said.
Lavrov will receive the new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) on Tuesday next week. After the federal elections, Russian state media scornfully reported the election of two transgender MPs from Baerbock’s party, and on the other hand highlighted the Greens’ opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas project, which bypasses the Ukraine as a transit country. Leonid Slutsky, head of the Duma’s Committee on International Affairs, said of the Russian lower house that he would not diagnose Baerbock as “a clearly anti-Russian politician”. Perhaps what the minister is going through in Russia will “force her to some extent to reconsider her views.” In addition to the conversation with Lavrov, Baerbock’s program includes a tour of the “Diversity United” exhibition in the new Tretyakov Gallery and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Kremlin wall. Baerbock will travel to Kiev next Monday, where she will be received by President Volodymyr Selenskyj and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.