Russia has detailed its security demands to the U.S. and NATO in form of two draft treaties.
Besides yours truly many knowledgeable bloggers and publicists have also written about the issue:
- M. K. Bhadrakumar - Spectre of war is haunting Europe
- Andrei Raevsky (aka The Saker) - Russia’s ultimatum to the West (IMPORTANT UPDATE)
- Andrei Martyanov - People Asked, I Respond. On the Run.
- Gilbert Doctorow at Antiwar - A Surprise Russian Ultimatum: New Draft Treaties To Roll Back NATO
- Patrick J. Buchanan at Antiwar - What To Do About That Russian Ultimatum
- Gerard Toat in the Irish Times - Delusion on all sides has paved way for Russia-Nato standoff
- Andrei Raevsky again - What could happen next if the USA rejects the Russian ultimatum?
- Patrick Armstrong - WE’VE SEEN THE ULTIMATUM, WHAT IS THE "OR ELSE”?
Andrei Martyanov also explains the timing. Russia is technologically and militarily in a strong position and currently can survive a break with the 'western' world without too much trouble. The U.S. is in disarray and NATO not ready to fight. It is simply the right moment.
To add to his short video I will also note that it is winter and that Europe depends on Russian gas. Gazprom is no longer offering gas at European spot markets but only delivering in previously agreed quantities to long term contract partners. This puts pressure on German regulators to finally sign off on Nord Stream II which the U.S. and Ukraine want to prevent by all means. Russia does not need that pipeline but Germany does.
The timing thereby guarantees that the issues Russia has noted will get the appropriate attention in all of Europe.
Some 'western experts' like the anti-Russian Dimitri Alperovitch believe that Russia will wage war on Ukraine no matter what but especially if the U.S. and NATO reject the treaties.
I believe that to be false. If something has to be done about Ukraine, which is currently not the case, it will be a Gulf War 1 style war that will destroy its armed forces but not invade the country. It is not worth the effort.
Andrei Martyanov lists a number of impressive weapons systems Russia could set up on its ground or around the world and sell to "more than allies" China, India and other customers. The U.S. forces would thereby come under severe threats in several theaters.
I believe that Russia has also a number of impressive new arms and systems that it has not unveiled yet. Those too can be station in many places and can also get sold to its allies. Those who threaten Russia will come under at least equally strong threats in their offices and homes.
Raevsky and Armstrong present more options in their last pieces listed above.
Meanwhile Russia has increased the pressure on the issue. Throughout the last days everyone of higher rank relevant to foreign policy and defense has held some talk on the issue. All of them were translated to English. This will supposedly help to get the attention the Russian steps deserve.
When Russia talks one should listen. Here are therefore the relevant excerpts from all these interviews and speeches.
On December 18 in an long interview with Interfax Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, the point man for the treaties, explained the reasoning behind the demands:
The security situation in Europe, the Euro-Atlantic region and Eurasia has indeed greatly deteriorated recently. This has happened because of a series of concerted actions by the United States and its NATO allies, which, generally speaking, can be described as an attempt to undermine Russia’s security and to create a hostile environment around us. We cannot accept this.
Ukraine is in the focus of this policy. Ukraine’s decisions are not independent but are subject to change in the situation. When the West provides unconditional and unqualified support to Ukraine, certain quarters in Kiev play up to the worst Western objectives and formulas. And the possibility of Ukraine eventually joining NATO, which some Ukrainian officials keep talking about, is categorically unacceptable to us. We will do our best to prevent this.
Ryabkov rejects to call the draft treaties an 'ultimatum' and he leaves open what Russia would do if the U.S. and its European proxies fail to react positively to Russia's concerns:
Question: But if, say, they reject our proposal, will that untie our hands?
Sergey Ryabkov: We will use the appropriate methods and approaches we need to ensure our security. We do not want a conflict and we would like to come to terms on a reasonable foundation. ...
On December 18 Ryabkov's colleague Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko gave an interview to the Solovyov Live YouTube channel. TASS reported on it:
Russia will engage in creating counter threats if NATO turns down the Russian proposals for security guarantees, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Solovyov Live YouTube channel on Saturday.
"We are making clear that we are ready to talk about switching over from a military or a military-technical scenario to a political process" that will strengthen the security of all countries in the area of the OCSE, Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia, he said. "If that doesn’t work out, we signaled to them (NATO-TASS) that will also move over to creating counter threats, but it will then be too late to ask us why we made these decisions and why we deployed these systems."
On December 20 Grushko also gave an interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta. He is asked what Russia would do if no agreement is found:´
Question: Mr Grushko, discussions of the action plan regarding NATO’s expansion, which Russia has proposed to Washington, are ongoing. You have mentioned a "military-technical alternative,” if NATO rejects Moscow’s proposals. What do you have in mind?
Alexander Grushko: If our concerns are disregarded and NATO countries are not ready to show military restraint, we will have to use the response instruments at our disposal. There is no other option. If the other side decides to project, let alone use force, that is, if it applies its defence capability as a means of economic or political pressure, this will be unacceptable to Russia, and we will find methods to neutralise these threats.
Question: What methods could this be?
Alexander Grushko: For example, if strike systems capable of reaching our command centres within a matter of minutes are deployed in the territory of NATO countries, we will have to create an appropriate situation for them.
The flight time of a hypersonic missile fired from a Russian submarine stationed near the U.S. east coast (or from Cuba?) to Washington DC is impressively short.
Then Ryabkov talked with TASS:
Russia is ready for a military response if NATO keeps ignoring Moscow’s security concerns, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Monday.
"I said that we would find forms to respond, including by military and military-technical means [if NATO ignores Moscow’s concerns again]," the high-ranking Russian diplomat told TASS.
"I reaffirm this. We will have to balance the activities that are of concern to us, because they increase the risks, with our countermeasures," Ryabkov said.
Yesterday Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave a long interview to a number of RT correspondents. A transcript is not yet available but the English language video is here. During the first few minutes Lavrov rips NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg a new one.
Also on December 21 President Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the annual expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board at the National Defense Control Centre. The part where he talks about defense modernization he mentions this:
We continued to actively develop cutting-edge weapons systems. Some of them, namely the Avangard and Kinzhal systems, have been put on combat duty.
Later on he demurs about U.S. weapons systems in Poland and Romania:
The Mk 41 launchers, which are located in Romania and are to be deployed in Poland, are adapted for launching the Tomahawk strike missiles. If this infrastructure continues to move forward, and if US and NATO missile systems are deployed in Ukraine, their flight time to Moscow will be only 7–10 minutes, or even five minutes for hypersonic systems. This is a huge challenge for us, for our security.
Putin explains how the draft treaties grew out of his virtual summit with Biden. He goes on:
[W]e need at least something, at least a legally binding agreement rather than just verbal assurances. We know the worth of such verbal assurances, fine words and promises. Take the recent past, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when we were told that our concerns about NATO’s potential expansion eastwards were absolutely groundless. And then we saw five waves of the bloc’s eastward expansion. Do you remember how it happened? All of you are adults. It happened at a time when Russia’s relations with the United States and main member states of NATO were cloudless, if not completely allied.
I have already said this in public and will remind you of this again: American specialists were permanently present at the nuclear arms facilities of the Russian Federation. They went to their office there every day, had desks and an American flag. Wasn’t this enough? What else is required? US advisors worked in the Russian Government, career CIA officers gave their advice. What else did they want? What was the point of supporting separatism in the North Caucasus, with the help of even ISIS – well, if not ISIS, there were other terrorist groups. They obviously supported terrorists. What for? What was the point of expanding NATO and withdrawing from the ABM Treaty?
They are to blame for what is happening in Europe now, for the escalation of tensions there. ...
As to how Russia will fix that:
Naturally, as I have already noted, if our Western colleagues continue their obviously aggressive line, we will take appropriate military-technical reciprocal measures and will have a tough response to their unfriendly steps. And, I would like to stress that we are fully entitled to these actions that are designed to ensure Russia’s security and independence.
He later adds:
Given the complicated international situation, it is necessary to develop military and military-technical cooperation with states that are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and to pay special attention to strengthening the defence capability of the Russia-Belarus Union State.
Putin's speech is followed by one by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He explains the military situation from the Russian perspective. NATO and the U.S. are doing all they can encroach on Russia. Of the Ukraine he especially notes:
The military development of Ukraine’s territory by NATO countries is underway. The situation is being further aggravated by the deliveries of US and allied helicopters, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and guided anti-tank missiles. The presence of over 120 members of US private military companies in Avdeyevka and Priazovskoye, Donetsk Region, has been proved reliably.
They are setting up firing positions in residential houses and social facilities and are preparing the Ukrainian special operations forces and far-right armed groups for active hostilities. Unidentified chemical warfare agents have been delivered to Avdeyevka and Krasny Liman for the purpose of provocations. The Ukrainian military keep up the shelling of civilian neighbourhoods in Donbass and the positions of the people’s militias of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics to provoke a response.
Shoigu details the exceptional amount of modern weapons the armed forces have received and concludes:
Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,
All the tasks assigned to the Armed Forces for 2021 have been accomplished. The Armed Forces’ combat capability has grown by 12.8 percent; the prescribed level of national defence capability has been ensured. The implementation of all signed contracts has ensured the delivery of over 5,000 main armament models. The rearmament of the Army and the Navy and regular servicing have made it possible to maintain military equipment in good condition at the level of 95 percent.
Russian society has a high regard for the Defence Ministry’s activities. Over 90 percent of Russian citizens are confident that the Armed Forces are capable of defending the country, and 88 percent are proud of the Army and Navy.
In accordance with your instruction, we will continue to ensure the sustainable development of the Armed Forces and to enhance their combat capabilities throughout 2022. We will discuss the results of our activities in great detail at our limited-attendance meeting.
Then Putin is back on with a more informal talk. He also rejects to call the draft treaty an 'ultimatum'. He bemoans the illegality of U.S. action:
As a reminder: everything that our partners – let us call them that – the United States has been doing in previous years, supposedly ensuring its interests and security thousands of kilometres away from their national territory – they have been doing these tough things, the boldest things, without UN Security Council authorisation.
He notes that sometime in the future the U.S. will also have hypersonic weapons like the ones Russia currently has or is fielding. It could station those in the Ukraine and directly threaten Moscow. Then comes the important part:
Armed conflicts and bloodshed are absolutely not our choice. We do not want to see events go that way. We want to use political and diplomatic means to resolve problems but we want to at least have clearly formulated legal guarantees. This is what our proposals are all about. We set them down on paper and sent them to Brussels and Washington, and we hope to receive a clear and comprehensive response to these proposals.
There are certain signals that our partners appear to be willing to work on that. However, there is also a danger that they will attempt to drown our proposals in words, or in a swamp, in order to take advantage of this pause and do whatever they want to do.
To make it clear to everyone: we are aware of this, and this turn of events, these developments, will not work for us. We look forward to constructive and meaningful talks with a visible outcome – and within a definite timeframe – that would ensure equal security for all.
This is what we will strive to achieve, but we can do so only if the Armed Forces are developing properly.