These days Russia is analyzing the written responses it has received this week from the United States and NATO to the security guarantees that Moscow has requested to find a way out of the crisis in Ukraine. The Kremlin has already indicated that it will take its time to study a text whose content is unknown, which could lead some to interpret that “there is concessions to Moscow that are not openly recognized”, according to what the co-director of the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH), Jesús Núñez Villaverde, tells RTVE.es.
The Kremlin has ruled out an “immediate” reaction to the security guarantees that Moscow has requested to find a way out of the crisis in Ukraine.
Washington and the Atlantic Alliance have rejected that NATO give up the open door policy to Ukraine and other countries, one of the security guarantees required by Russia. Although the dialogue between the parties remains open, Núñez Villaverde stresses that “Moscow you will not leave this story empty handed”.
Withdrawal of troops, “only in exchange for compensation”
The deployment of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine started in November 2021 and has been increasing progressively until reaching the more than 100,000 soldiers. Russia has reported air exercises on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed in 2014, as well as in regions close to Ukraine. It will also send troops to Belarus, where on February 10 and 20 there will be Russian-Belarussian Military Maneuvers, described by the West asworrying”.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, has stated that there is “a distinct possibility” of Russia invading Ukraine in February. Washington and NATO want Moscow to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border and, after receiving their answers, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, it does not close the dialog.
However the withdrawal of Russian forces “will not be the next step let Moscow give”, according to Núñez Villaverde, who stresses that “it should not be ruled out in the future”.
“It would be a sign of de-escalation and that Moscow achieves something after this militaristic bet,” explains Núñez Villaverde. “Russia has said that it will take time to respond (…) That gives it time to continue to maintain interest in the dialogue, but it also maintaining the accumulation of forces, assuming that what is already there is enough to carry out important military actions”, he asserts.
For his part, the professor of Political Science at the Pablo de Olavide University, Manuel Torres, tells RTVE.es that the withdrawal of Russian troops “can only take place to the extent that Putin can sell his public opinion that this is happening in exchange for compensation”. “The West will manage to reverse the order of events a bit if it is able to offer Putin something with which he can justify to its citizens why it is going to back down”, he stresses.
Maintain the diplomatic path, “difficult without a tangible concession”
Among the security guarantees required by Russia to reduce tension in Ukraine is curb NATO expansion, the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the Alliance in countries bordering Russia and the cessation of military cooperation with former Soviet republics. However, in their response to Moscow, both Washington and NATO have rejected the Alliance’s giving up the open-door policy.
Torres stresses that “it will be difficult for the diplomatic channel to remain open if there is no kind of tangible concession of something that Russia can interpret as a gesture of goodwill.” “The Russian view is that this pretense of dialogue and the diplomatic route is simply an attempt to delay the situation, to prolong the inevitable”, he warns.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has assured that the United States’ responses to Russia contain rational elements in “secondary matters”, such as in relation to the location of short and medium range missiles.
“Let us remember that within the Cold War there were chances of agreement in strategic nuclear weapons, in tactical weapons, in conventional weapons between Moscow and Washington. If that has been possible in the Cold War, why isn’t it going to be today”, indicates Núñez Villaverde.
Putin’s “unhurried” response to the US and NATO proposals
the west has been late more than a month to respond in writing to Moscow’s proposals for security guarantees and now the Kremlin has ruled out an “immediate” reaction. Lavrov has reported that Putin already has “all the documents” and has stressed that first there will be “interdepartmental consultations”. In addition, the Russian president will consult with the military on the measures he will take if the West ignores his demands.
“We are in an absolutely predictable back-and-forth game in the sense that NATO is never going to put in writing that it renounces the integration of new countries, not only Ukraine, and that, for its part, Moscow you will not leave this story empty handed”, says the co-director of the Institute for Studies on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH).
For his part, the professor of Political Science at the Pablo de Olavide University affirms that Putin “seeks a commitment that those countries (the United States and NATO) will close the door not only to Ukraine, but to any country in that orbit that Russia they believe they have the right to establish, they will never join the Alliance”, something that Torres emphasizes is “very complicated from the democratic logic itself”. “The answer of not closing the door, does not give much hope to Russia that this condition that has been imposed is accepted”, he adds.
“Secret” concessions in the negotiations
As in any negotiation, the exact content of the documents presented by the United States and the Atlantic Alliance is unknown for now. Núñez Villaverde considers that “it is not a good sign because makes you think they don’t want it to be known”. “You can argue that it is to preserve the privacy of the matter, but it conveys the idea that there may be things they don’t want us to know. That opacity would be interpreted as meaning that there are concessions to Moscow that they do not want to openly acknowledge”, says the IECAH co-director.
For his part, Manuel Torres affirms that the transmission of the negotiations to public opinion “almost in real time does not facilitate the agreement”. “Especially because the different governments have to sometimes maintain different speeches towards their public opinion and then towards the other part”, he emphasizes.
The reasons for the security guarantees that Russia demands from the United States and NATO go beyond what is known, according to some experts. The political scientist Kirill Rogov assures that “confrontation with the West is a source of legitimacy for Putin internally. annex Crimea skyrocketed in popularity in 2014after a period of protests. Now look for something similar.”