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The Russia-U.S. Strategic Dialogue Meeting: What Ryabkov Said

Jan. 11, 2022 (EIRNS)—As adamant as the U.S. side that NATO membership must be open to any country that wishes to join was Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov that NATO must stop pushing eastwards. “We presented to the Americans in the most detailed way possible the logic and substance of our proposals, explained why obtaining legal guarantees from NATO not to expand is an absolute imperative, explained why we absolutely must receive legal guarantees on the non-deployment of the strike systems on Russia’s borders, and why we are raising the question about NATO abandoning, by and large, the matériel development of the territory of states which joined the alliance after 1997,” he said after his Jan. 10 meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, reported Sputnik. Ryabkov warned that any attempts by the U.S. and NATO to blackmail and intimidate Russia on Ukraine are “unacceptable” from Moscow’s perspective, and will not yield any results. He stressed that “playing with fire” was not in Washington’s interest, and that “radical changes” were necessary in the Russia-NATO relationship.

“For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, ever becomes a member of NATO,” Ryabkov continued, and Moscow is insisting that the institution amend its policies to reflect this reality. “We are fed up with loose talk, half-promises, misinterpretations of what happened in different negotiations behind closed doors,” he said, referring to the State Department’s claims in recent days that NATO and the U.S. never promised Moscow that NATO would not expand to the east. “We do not trust the other side, so to speak,” Ryabkov said. “It’s over, enough is enough.”

Ryabkov warned that if the U.S. stations advanced strike weapons close to Russia’s borders, there will be some form of military response by Russia. He insisted that if NATO proceeds toward the deployment of new capabilities in weaponry, “which are being developed very rapidly in the U.S.,” the Russian military may reply in a way that “will inevitably and unavoidably damage the security of the U.S. and its European allies.”

“We are calling on the U.S. to demonstrate a maximum of responsibility at this moment. Risks related to a possible increase of confrontation shouldn’t be underestimated,” Ryabkov said, adding that “significant” effort has been made to persuade the Americans that “playing with fire” is not in their interests.

Ryabkov also stressed that the Russian military will continue to hold exercises on Russian territory despite NATO’s objections. “We held and will continue holding these training events on our territory because, similar to how NATO takes care of its security, we also take care of our security and do what we deem necessary. In this process, however, we undoubtedly strictly observe all our commitments in arms control and non-proliferation, no matter what our opponents say on this score,” he said.

In recent months and years, Moscow has observed “the strongest exploitation” by the North Atlantic alliance and some states of the territory of Ukraine and other countries in close proximity to Russia’s borders, Ryabkov pointed out. “All this taken together leaves us no other choice but to strengthen the training activity on our territory,” he said.

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