Russia published draft details Friday of a security package it has sent the United States and NATO allies, which calls for restrictions on western military activity in Europe, as well as a halt to expansion by the alliance into eastern Europe.
The security proposal, submitted to the U.S. and its allies earlier this week, also calls for a ban on the deployment of U.S. and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory.
Many of the demands, such as a ban on NATO membership for Ukraine, already have been rejected by the U.S. and NATO, who have warned Russia not to invade Ukraine, as tens of thousands of Russian forces remain massed along the border.
Speaking Friday in Brussels, at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged receiving the security proposal, saying any dialogue with Russia also would need to address NATO's concerns about Russia's actions and take place in consultation with NATO's European partners such as Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said NATO allies have also made clear that if Russia would take concrete steps to reduce tensions in the region, they “are prepared to work on strengthening confidence-building measures.”
Following the publishing of the draft proposal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov spoke to reporters in Moscow, and indicated Moscow is ready to negotiate.
Ryabkov told reporters, "We are ready to immediately, even tomorrow—literally tomorrow, on Saturday, December 18—to go for talks with the U.S. in a third country.” He said Russia has suggested Geneva to U.S. officials.
Ryabkov also said Russia’s relations with the U.S. and its NATO allies have approached a “dangerous point,” noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.
For its part, the Biden administration this week signaled Moscow will pay a “terrible price” should it invade Ukraine due to what U.S. President Joe Biden has described as devastating sanctions.
“Our objective continues to be to keep this on a diplomatic path and for that to lead to de-escalation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
And U.S. lawmakers have called for the White House to speed up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, including ship-to-shore missiles, air defense missiles and additional Javelin anti-tank missiles in hopes of staving off a Russian invasion.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.