December 10 the Russian Foreign Ministry published a statementthat not only sounds like an ultimatum but seems to be meant as one:
We note US President Joseph Biden’s readiness expressed at the December 7, 2021 talks with President Vladimir Putin to establish a serious dialogue on issues related to ensuring the security of the Russian Federation. Such a dialogue is urgently needed today when the relations between Russia and the collective West continue to decay and have approached a critical line. At the same time, numerous loose interpretations of our position have emerged in recent days. In this connection we feel it is necessary to once again clarify the following.
Escalating a confrontation with our country is absolutely unacceptable. As a pretext, the West is using the situation in Ukraine, where it embarked on encouraging Russophobia and justifying the actions of the Kiev regime to undermine the Minsk agreements and prepare for a military scenario in Donbass.
Instead of reigning in their Ukrainian protégés, NATO countries are pushing Kiev towards aggressive steps. There can be no alternative interpretation of the increasing number of unplanned exercises by the United States and its allies in the Black Sea. NATO members’ aircraft, including strategic bombers, regularly make provocative flights and dangerous manoeuvres in close proximity to Russia’s borders. The militarisation of Ukraine’s territory and pumping it with weapons are ongoing.
The course has been chosen of drawing Ukraine into NATO, which is fraught with the deployment of strike missile systems there with a minimal flight time to Central Russia, and other destabilising weapons. Such irresponsible behaviour creates grave military risks for all parties involved, up to and including a large-scale conflict in Europe.
All the NATO action mentioned above directly endangers Russia’s security. It has to cease. Some of the steps taken must be reversed and Russia will have to be given guarantees that certain measures will not be taken. The statement includes this list of demands:
- No more NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders. Retraction of the 2008 NATO invitation to Ukraine and Georgia.
- Legally binding guarantee that no strike systems which could target Moscow will be deployed in countries next to Russia.
- No NATO or equivalent (UK, U.S., Pl.) ‘exercises’ near Russian borders.
- NATO ships, planes to keep certain distances from Russian borders.
- Regular military-to-military talks.
- No intermediate-range nukes in Europe.
That the above is not a “pretty please” wishlist has since been emphasized by several Russian authorities:
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Monday warned of confrontation should the United States and NATO fail to give Russia security guarantees concerning its eastern expansion, the RIA news agency reported.