Russia issues list of demands it says must be met to defuse tensions with West and end Ukraine crisis

·2-min read
 (SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
(SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia has issued a contentious list of demands it claims must be met to lower tensions in Europe and defuse a crisis on the Ukraine border.

The Kremlin has been accused of sizing up for a potential attack on Ukraine after amassing troops on the eastern border.

The list of demands, submitted to the US and its allies earlier this week, contain a number of elements that the West has already ruled out, including an effective Russian veto on NATO membership for Ukraine.

They also contain obligations to pull back weapons and refrain drills near the borders between Russia and members of the alliance.

Presenting the demands in detail for the first time, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that Russia and the West must start from a clean sheet in rebuilding relations.

"The line pursued by the United States and NATO over recent years to aggressively escalate the security situation is absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous," he said.

"Washington and its NATO allies should immediately stop regular hostile actions against our country, including unscheduled exercises ... and manoeuvres of military ships and planes, and stop the military development of Ukrainian territory."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that the alliance had received the Russian draft documents, but stressed any dialogue with Moscow would “need to address NATO’s concerns about Russia’s actions”.

He added that the 30 NATO countries “have made clear that should Russia take concrete steps to reduce tensions, we are prepared to work on strengthening confidence building measures.”

Security officials in Washington claim Russia has moved 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow has flatly denied any suggestion that it will invade.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States had seen the proposals and was speaking to allies.

"There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners," Psaki told reporters.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It has killed over 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland called Donbas.

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