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Russia demands Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations be barred from joining Nato

Russia has published draft security pacts demanding that Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries be barred from joining Nato, and that restrictions on troops and weapons in Europe be put in place.

The documents, which were submitted to the US and its allies earlier this week, also call for a ban on sending US and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, and demand a roll back on the deployment of alliance troops near Russian borders.

The demands appear certain to be rejected by the US and its allies, which have emphasised that Russia does not have a say in Nato’s enlargement.

The alliance’s secretary-general warned that any security talks with Moscow would need to take Nato concerns into account and involve Ukraine and other partners.

The publication of the draft pacts come amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine that has drawn Ukrainian and Western fears of an invasion.

Moscow has denied plans to attack its neighbour, but demanded the West provide a set of legal guarantees precluding Nato’s expansion to Ukraine and other Russian neighbours and the deployment of the alliance’s weapons there, a demand Nato has rejected.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow’s relations with the US and its Nato allies have approached a “dangerous point”, noting that alliance deployments and drills near Russia have raised “unacceptable” threats to its security.

The draft pacts – a Russia-US security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and Nato – contain obligations to pull back weapons and refrain from drills near the borders between Russia and the alliance members.

Mr Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow proposed that the US immediately start talks on the proposed drafts in Geneva.

The drafts would oblige Washington and its allies take an obligation to halt Nato’s eastward expansion to include other ex-Soviet republics and rescind a 2008 promise of membership to Ukraine and Georgia.

They also would preclude the US and its allies from setting up military bases in Ukraine, Georgia and other ex-Soviet nations which are not members of Nato.

A draft treaty with the US contains a ban on the deployment of American and Russian warships and aircraft to “areas where they can strike targets on the territory of the other party”.

Moscow has long complained about patrol flights by US strategic bombers near Russian borders and the deployment of American and Nato warships to the Black Sea, describing them as destabilising and provocative.

Russia’s draft also envisages a pledge not to station intermediate-range missiles in areas where they can strike the other party’s territory, a clause that follows the US and Russian withdrawal from a Cold War-era pact banning such weapons.

President Vladimir Putin raised the demand for security guarantees in last week’s video call with US President Joe Biden. During the conversation, Mr Biden voiced concern about a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbour.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that the alliance had received the Russian draft documents, and noted that any dialogue with Moscow “would also need to address Nato’s concerns about Russia’s actions, be based on core principles and documents of European security, and take place in consultation with Nato’s European partners, such as Ukraine”.

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”.

U. intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year.

Moscow has denied an intention to attack and accused Ukrainian authorities of planning an offensive to reclaim control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine – an allegation Kiev has rejected.

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 more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland of Donbas.

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