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Russia wants Nato troops out of the former Soviet Union, Lavrov said

Russia wants Nato to withdraw all its troops from Bulgaria, Romania and other former communist countries in Eastern Europe who joined the alliance after 1997, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday, emphasizing the Moscow hardline role ahead of security talks with the US in Geneva.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said in a Q&A letter to Russia that “Russia’s demands include” removing foreign troops, weapons, ammunition and doing other things to get them back to where they were in 1997 “, when Nato began ratifying the old Warsaw Treaty. countries.

“This includes Bulgaria and Romania,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia’s interests were “important” and “clearly stated in clear and unambiguous terms.”

Western officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin is closer than ever to resume an invasion of Ukraine after gathering more than 106,000 troops near its border in recent weeks. In the eastern region of the Donbas in Ukraine more than 14,000 people have died in the slow-moving war since 2014.

The United States has made significant efforts to reduce tensions and to warn of “crippling” sanctions if Russia goes to extremes in Ukraine.

But the western alliance was disrupted this week by US President Joe Biden, who seems to suggest that the white man’s response is dependent on the size of Russia’s intervention and that French President Emmanuel Macron has considered a security deal with Europe and Moscow.

Biden later echoed his remarks, saying Russia “paid a higher price” in the event of an accident.

Lavrov and Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, discussed Moscow’s security situation in Geneva on Friday but both said they did not expect victory.

Blinken said at the beginning of the discussion: “I hope and hope that we can test whether the process of communication, dialogue, is still open. We are committed to walking this path, resolving our differences peacefully and I hope to try this idea today.”

But he said the US and its allies had pledged, “if this does not happen, then Russia will consider violent acts in Ukraine, responding in a united, urgent and difficult manner”.

Lavrov said Russia “no longer waits for the talks to take place” and added that he was waiting for the US written response to Moscow’s security comments, “which is very positive and we are looking forward to a definitive solution”.

The US and its European allies say Russia’s demand that Nato swear that it will not accept Ukraine and restore the spread of alliance in the east – which could re-enact a post-war security plan – is unacceptable.

Macron said Wednesday that France was ready to send troops to Romania if Nato decides to increase its presence there. Nato members are discussing the deployment of troops in the Black Sea region under its “forward-looking” missions, such as in Poland and the Baltic states following Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014.

Putin has sworn that “military and technical” would not be mentioned if the West does not agree with Russia’s demands.

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