МОСКВА, 10 декабря 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.
Moscow and Washington will exchange proposals within a few days on building a configuration of ensuring Russia’s security for the medium-term and strategic perspective in the context of NATO’s expansion to the east, including at the expense of Ukraine. This was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
According to Putin, during a video conference with US President Joe Biden, «we agreed that we will continue this discussion and do it in a substantive way, we will exchange our thoughts on this in the near future. Russia will prepare its considerations literally within a few days, within a week. We will refer this to the American side for consideration. And we agreed that an appropriate structure will be created that will be able to deal with this professionally.»
In his turn, Biden said that he expects to announce by the end of this week a high-level meeting between Russia, the United States and four other key NATO member countries (according to RUSSTRAT, this means Great Britain, Germany, Italy and France) to «remove Moscow’s concerns about the activities of the North Atlantic Alliance in Eastern Europe”. According to the American president, this meeting will discuss the possibility of «working out a compromise to reduce tensions on the eastern flank» of the alliance.
At the same time, as can be seen from the remarks of the US military, Washington is not too interested in transferring the discussion of these problems to the level of the entire NATO.
Although the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, held a meeting with the heads of defence ministers of the alliance member countries earlier this week, as Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stressed at a briefing on December 8, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin does not plan to hold additional consultations with his NATO colleagues and to announce the provision of new military assistance to Ukraine.
According to Kirby, only if «there is an invasion of Ukraine» and «if our allies in the alliance request additional resources to help them with their own defensive needs, then we will positively consider these requests”. But Washington and Moscow obviously rule out such a scenario, otherwise Putin and Biden would not have talked about exchanging proposals and creating a platform for their discussion.
The beginning is encouraging, but what’s next? If the Russian leadership takes a consolidated position and firmly knows what is needed to ensure the security of our country, then the White House receives contradictory advice from the American expert community. However, analysts agree that the main source of the problem was the Bucharest NATO summit in 2008, when Ukraine and Georgia were promised membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, but specific dates of it were not named.
Although back then another decision could have been made. As Fiona Hill, an expert on Russia from the Brookings Institution, who participated in the Bucharest summit, recalls, the American intelligence community recommended not to encourage Kiev and Tbilisi, because most of the NATO member countries opposed it, but this proposal was not supported by US President George W. Bush.
«A compromise was reached with the mediation of the UK, becoming the worst of all possible outcomes,» Hill said in a conversation with The New York Times. «Mr. Putin has been trying to close that door ever since.»
Washington does not want to tie its own hands by securing in writing a refusal to expand the North Atlantic Alliance to the east.
Even realising that Moscow, as the Carnegie Foundation writes, «increasingly views Ukraine as a Western aircraft carrier parked directly opposite the Rostov region in southern Russia”. Some «advisers» suggest playing with Russia in this situation, trying to deceive it.
Their recommendation is as follows: it is necessary «to give Putin the opportunity to discuss the future of European security, as he says, if this will ease Russian fears. All right, let’s hold a big conference, it can last for years, and a conversation with the Russian president is not a concession”. But Moscow will not opt for «negotiations for the sake of negotiations» and is not going to take the «American gentlemen» at their word, these times are over.
Moscow is waiting for concrete steps, including those that will be taken on the eve and during any bilateral and multilateral conferences on NATO’s activities in Eastern Europe.
The United States is today the leading provider of military assistance to Ukraine. According to Air Force magazine, currently about 150 instructors from the 53rd Infantry Brigade of the Florida National Guard and an unspecified number of military personnel from the US special operations forces are working with Ukrainian «colleagues».
These Americans need to return home right now, so as not to create illusions in Kiev that it will be able to hide behind Washington.
Such a step will also show that the Biden administration is really set up to work constructively with Moscow. The path to gaining trust consists of small steps. It’s time for the US to start making them.