“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE region is greater now than ever in the last 30 years,” warned Rau in his speech to present the priorities of his presidency before the Permanent Council of that organization in Vienna.
He referred, without expressly mentioning it, to the situation in recent weeks due to the deployment of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, and Moscow’s demands to maintain its sphere of influence over countries that were under the control of the Soviet Union until 1989 and who now want to join NATO.
“We have recently heard a demand for security guarantees related to a significant part of the OSCE area and a renewed discourse on areas of influence,” the minister said without mentioning Russia.
The secretary general of the Western Military Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, stressed that he will not limit its ability to continue adding members, something that Russia rejects, but remains open to dialogue with this country on security.
“We are ready to get involved in the dialogue but not to compromise our basic principles, such as the open door policy,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference with Estonian President Alar Karis, after the two met at allied headquarters.
Stoltenberg referred to the first meeting in more than two years of the NATO-Russia Council, the main forum for dialogue between the two parties, held on Wednesday and in which they discussed the military reinforcement that Moscow is carrying out together with Ukraine and its implications for security in Europe.
In that appointment, they made it clear that “any new aggression against Ukraine would carry a high price for Russia.”
Moscow wants guarantees that the Alliance will not add new members near its borders, both from Europe and Central Asia. On a possible accession of Sweden and Finland, Stoltenberg acknowledged that they are “very close partners” and that they already work with them, conducting joint exercises and training, and that “they already meet NATO standards in most areas.”
Russia’s complaints and the threat to Cuba and Venezuela
Sergey Riabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, told his country’s RTVi network on Thursday that the US and NATO have rejected Moscow’s demands to limit their expansion: “As for the key elements of the texts (of security guarantees) The United States and its allies, in fact, tell us no,” he said.
In this framework, Russia sees no reason to organize a new round of negotiations after initial meetings marked by differences: “Without clarifying whether there is (…) flexibility on the other side on important issues, there is no reason to sit down at the table in the next few days, meet again and start the same discussions”, declared the Russian deputy minister.
It is at this point that Moscow plans to use its relations in Latin America to pressure Washington and launched a threat that suggests a return to Cold War tensions: send troops to Cuba and Venezuela if NATO persists in expanding into Eastern Europe. .
Riabkov stressed that “the main problem is that the US and NATO are not willing to make any concessions of any kind on the key demands on NATO’s non-enlargement, the deployment of Alliance infrastructure and its return to the 1997 limits.” .
The Russian claim comes in the middle of a process that began with a change of government in Ukraine, which abandoned its pro-Russian tendency and moved closer to the West. Since then, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the armed conflict in the eastern provinces of the country, bordering Russia, have led to the current crisis.
According to the Russian diplomat, the US wants to prolong the process while continuing the “geopolitical military assimilation” of new territories, drawing ever closer to Moscow: “We have nowhere to retreat, only Moscow is behind,” he said.
Vladimir Putin does not accept that territories of the former Soviet Union, such as Ukraine or Georgia, approach or even join NATO. It is what you define as your “red line.”