In Geneva, U.S. Reiterates Commitment to NATO’s Open Door Policy

The United States reiterated its commitment to NATO’s Open Door policy in the January 9-10 security talks with Russia in Geneva, despite Russia’s demands the alliance backtracks on its 2008 decision that Georgia and Ukraine will eventually become its members.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator, stressed in her press briefing on January 10 that the U.S. would not “allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s ‘Open Door’ policy, which has always been central to the NATO Alliance.”

Calling Russia’s security proposals “non-starters” for Washington, Wendy Sherman said the U.S. “will not forego bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States,” or make decisions about Ukraine, Europe, or NATO without their involvement.  

“One country cannot change the borders of another by force, or dictate the terms of another country’s foreign policy, or forbid another country from choosing its own alliances,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, her Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in a press conference after the meeting yesterday said it was “absolutely mandatory” for Moscow to ensure that Ukraine and Georgia “will never, ever” become NATO members.

The Russian Deputy FM presented NATO’s forthcoming Madrid Summit on 29-30 June 2022 as a venue where the alliance could provide such legal guarantees to Moscow.

“We need iron-clad, waterproof, bulletproof legally binding guarantees. Not assurances, not safeguards, guarantees,” Ryabkov said.

Lamenting that discussions on NATO’s non-expansion have not yielded any progress, he argued it was “one of the major problems before us.”

“I would say the rest depends to a greater extent on what will happen further down the road exactly on this issue,” he added.

Other high-profile talks involving Russia are also scheduled later in the week. On January 12, NATO-Russia Council will convene in Brussels, while a day later in Vienna a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council will take place.

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