Russian press on Russia – West relations

Izvestia: NATO approaching Russia’s borders

Ukraine plans ten large-scale military drills with NATO’s participation in 2022, which obviously raises serious alarm bells in Russia. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the alliance’s actions appear to encourage Kiev’s belligerent sentiments. According to him, these drills are a cover for Ukraine to attempt yet again to resolve its internal problem by using force. Earlier, he stressed this sort of escalation of NATO’s presence in the region may lead to “the most serious consequences” for Ukraine.

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“The drills that Ukraine is conducting with NATO are a serious threat since they are directed at working on conducting a war against Russia. Additionally, they may serve as a cover for the deployment of a force grouping. Their arrival may end up with them not leaving,” military expert Konstantin Sivkov told Izvestia. In his opinion, Moscow should prepare to deflect the military aggression in addition to diplomatic statements which would involve the creation of force groupings, the development of new weapon systems and the holding of drills.

Former commander of Russia’s paratrooper forces, retired Colonel General Georgy Shpak pointed to the sheer number of drills underway, in which Ukraine’s territory is being scrutinized for military purposes. He reiterated that the US views China and Russia as enemies and Ukraine is just a “bargaining chip in this major military game.” His standpoint is that a positive resolution of these issues shouldn’t be expected until there is a change in the Ukrainian leadership.

“Given the number of drills, they can only cause concern. A document is needed that will provide security guarantees to the Russian Federation,” Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov told the newspaper. According to him, consultations are underway on such a document. “It is difficult to say what it may look like. As well as to presume that it will be signed. Since it will mean that Ukraine will radically change its position which does not look particularly hopeful right now,” the expert noted.

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Vedomosti: Russian Foreign Ministry submits tough demands to US, NATO in order to begin talks

Russia’s drafts of two security treaties with the US and NATO should be considered as a whole, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said after they were made public on December 17. The drafts involve NATO rejecting the membership bid of Ukraine and Georgia and the US not deploying medium-range missiles in Europe, minimizing the scale of drills near Russia’s borders, not stationing its troops in Eastern Europe and other limitations. On December 19, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said that NATO representatives will discuss Russian proposals within a week.

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According to Mikhail Barabanov, an expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, the drafts would be seen by the West as completely unacceptable. However, it is impossible to entirely reject it since then the West will have to admit that it is completely against any security talks with Russia. According to him, the Russian initiative intends to get the US involved in formal talks and then attempt to attain some informal results, above all, on NATO’s expansion to Ukraine.

According to Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrei Kortunov, the Russian leadership is distrustful of any agreements with the West that are not legally binding since Moscow remembers too well the verbal promise on NATO’s non-expansion that was not kept. He concurs that Moscow’s demands are unacceptable for the West yet it is possible to reach an agreement on rebuilding trust and contacts and on containing the deployment of new medium-range missile systems. According to the expert, if the alliance rejects all of Russia’s offers, Moscow will deploy new missile systems and create strategic tension.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry wants to demonstrate the validity and serious nature of its position by making such statements, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine says. According to him, Moscow is deliberately escalating the situation to force the West to respond. However, he thinks that strategic stability in Europe won’t be shattered should NATO refuse to hold talks with Russia since it is ensured by Russia-US nuclear parity, which won’t vanish any time soon.

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