On Thursday, Russia delivered its reply to the American response to Moscow’s security proposals. The Russians noted the US willingness to negotiate arms control measures but said it was not a “constructive response” because Washington didn’t address Moscow’s chief concerns.
“We state that the American side did not give a constructive response to the basic elements of the draft treaty with the United States prepared by the Russian side on security guarantees,” the Russians said, according to a translated version of the written response posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
Among the issues Russia said were not properly addressed were NATO’s eastward expansion and the issue of rescinding the promise to Ukraine and Georgia that they would eventually become members of the military alliance. President Biden has said publicly that Ukraine won’t join NATO anytime soon, but the US reaffirmed to Russia that it supports the alliance’s “open door” policy.
Moscow also reiterated its call for US forces to withdraw from Eastern Europe. “We insist on withdrawal of all US armed forces and weapons, deployed in Central Eastern, Southeastern Europe, and the Baltics. We are certain that national potentials in these areas are quite enough,” the Russian response says. Amid the current tensions with Russia, the US has deployed additional troops to Eastern Europe and is working with NATO to expand the alliance’s presence in the region.
Russia said the US didn’t respond to its call for the US to withdraw all of its nuclear weapons that are in Europe. Russia takes issue with the fact that there are US nuclear warheads deployed in non-nuclear states. For example, there are about 20 US B-61 nuclear bombs in Germany, and despite being a non-nuclear state, Berlin has a fleet of Tornado fighter bombers to deliver the warheads.
Although the US didn’t address the concerns listed above, Washington did make serious arms control offers, which Russia recognized. The two sides are willing to work on a mutual ban on the deployment of missiles previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a replacement for New START, and verification measures to confirm the US doesn’t have Tomahawk missiles at its bases in Romania and Poland.
“We note the readiness of the United States to work substantively on individual arms control and risk reduction measures,” the Russian response reads. The Russians said the ideas “proposed by the American side for developing our idea of mutual verification measures” to confirm there are no Tomahawk missiles at US bases “can be further developed.”
Russia said if the US isn’t ready “to agree on firm, legally binding guarantees to ensure our security from the United States and its allies” it would be forced to respond “through the implementation of military-technical measures.”
Many Western media outlets took the “military-technical measures” line as Russia threatening military action. But it’s more likely Russia would look to deploy missiles or other military hardware to its allies in Latin America, if they allow it. In January, a Russian arms control official alluded to this, and said without new treaties, a new missile crisis is “unavoidable.”