“We respect sovereign right of every nation to choose what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of, or don’t want to be part of,” said today NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after announcing that the Alliance has conveyed, along with the U.S., written proposals to Moscow.
“That’s the reason why we respect the decisions by Georgia and Ukraine to apply for membership and also, the reason why we have engaged in a very strong and close partnership with both these countries,” the Secretary General underlined.
In his words, focus now is on the reforms to help Georgia and Ukraine modernize and strengthen their defense and security institutions and to meet NATO standards before they are accepted as members.
NATO’s Written Proposals to Moscow
Elaborating on written proposals sent to Russia, Jens Stoltenberg said the Alliance sees room for progress in three key directions:
1) NATO-Russia relations
The Secretary General said NATO and Russia should reestablish their respective offices in Moscow and in Brussels; make full use of existing military-to-military channels of communication to promote transparency and reduce risks; and look into setting up civilian hotline for emergency use.
2) European security, including the situation in and around Ukraine
“We are prepared to listen to Russia’s concerns, and engage in a real conversation on how to uphold and strengthen the fundamental principles of European security that we have all signed up to, starting with the Helsinki Final Act,” stated the NATO chief. He continued that this includes the right of each nation to choose its own security arrangements.
According to the NATO chief, Russia should refrain from coercive force posturing, aggressive rhetoric, and malign activities directed against Allies and other nations. “Russia should also withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, where they are deployed without these countries’ consent.”
3) Risk reduction, transparency and arms control
The Secretary General said practical measures are needed to make a real difference, proposing as a first step mutual briefings on exercises, and nuclear policies in NATO-Russia council.
Stoltenberg also suggested to modernize Vienna Document on military transparency, and work to reduce space and cyber threats; consult on ways to prevent incidents in the air and at sea; full compliance with international commitments on chemical and biological weapons. “We need to have a serious conversations on arms controls, including nuclear weapons, and ground-based intermediate and shorter range missiles.
The NATO chief said in all of their efforts NATO “will continue to coordinate closely with Ukraine, as well as with all the NATO partners, including Finland, Sweden, Georgia and of course, the European Union.”
Having gotten the West’s attention after a massive military deployment in and around Ukraine in late 2021, Russia is now seeking “security guarantees” — to be enshrined in concrete international treaties — that would preclude NATO expansion and curtail any other military activity close to Russia’s borders.
While all eyes are on Ukraine, which faces the risk of major military action, Georgia, whose leadership continues to keep the low public profile in unfolding conflict, has crept up on the agenda nonetheless.
Russia’s key demand is for NATO to formally retract at its upcoming Madrid Summit the pledge made in Bucharest in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia will become members of the Alliance.
Moscow also demands that the U.S. and allied forces abstain from bilateral military cooperation, military exercises, or other “military activities” on the territories of former Soviet states.
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