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Russia on Friday published draft security demands that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe – bold ultimatums that are almost certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies.
Watch Sullivan’s remarks in the player above.
The proposals, which were submitted to the U.S. and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, along with a halt to NATO military drills near Russia.
The demand for a written guarantee that Ukraine won’t be offered membership already has been rejected by the West, which said Moscow doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement.
NATO’s secretary-general responded Friday by emphasizing that any security talks with Moscow would need to take into account NATO concerns and involve Ukraine and other partners. The White House similarly said it’s discussing the proposals with U.S. allies and partners, but noted that all countries have the right to determine their future without outside interference.
The publication of the demands – contained in a proposed Russia-U.S. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO – comes amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has raised fears of an invasion. Moscow has denied it has plans to attack its neighbor, but is seeking legal guarantees precluding NATO expansion and deploying weapons there.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the administration is ready to discuss Moscow’s concerns about NATO in talks with Russian officials, but emphasized that Washington is committed to the “principle of nothing about you without you” in shaping policy that impacts European allies.
“We’re approaching the broader question of diplomacy with Russia from the point of view that … meaningful progress at the negotiating table, of course, will have to take place in a context of de-escalation rather than escalation,” Sullivan said at the event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. He added “that it’s very difficult to see agreements getting consummated if we’re continuing to see an escalatory cycle.”
Asked about the ongoing talks aimed at salvaging Iran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Sullivan said “it’s not going well, in the sense that we do not yet have a pathway back into the JCPOA.”
Talks adjourned Friday to allow the Iranian negotiator to return home for consultations after a round marked by tensions over new demands from Tehran.
European diplomats said it was “a disappointing pause” and that negotiators in Vienna are “rapidly reaching the end of the road.” However, they did point to “some technical progress” so far.
“We have communicated both through the Europeans and directly to Iran,” Sullivan said, on the U.S. alarm.
“I’m not going to say more publicly about what those precise messages are because I believe that Iran understands them,” Sullivan went on to say that he did not want to negotiate in public with Iran.
The current talks in Vienna among the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – opened on Nov. 29, after more than five months, a gap caused by the arrival of a new hard-line government in Iran. There was also a short break last week as delegations returned home to consult with their governments.
The United States has participated indirectly in the ongoing talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal.
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