NATO on Friday rejected Russia’s demand to pull out its forces from Romania and Bulgaria saying the alliance “will not renounce our ability to protect and defend each other”.
Spheres of influence
“We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe,” Oana Lungescu, the NATO spokesperson said responding to Moscow’s demands.
“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense. NATO is vigilant and continues to assess the need to reinforce the eastern part of our alliance.”
There are growing fears in the region of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The U.S. and France on Wednesday announced deploying additional NATO troops in Romania.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the alliance in 2004.
Washington and its allies have repeatedly promised “severe” consequences such as punitive economic sanctions, but not military action against Russia if an invasion were to go ahead by the 100,000 troops who have been positioned near the Ukrainian border for weeks.
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has invited Russia to attend a second meeting of the NATO-Russia council in which the alliance would put forward detailed plans on confidence-building measures and arms control, including intermediate missiles and cyberwarfare.
#Russia’s demands wld create 1st & 2nd class #NATO members, which we cannot accept. We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe. And we will not renounce our ability to protect & defend each other. My response to @mfa_russia claims re @NATO Allies #Bulgaria #Romania 🔽 pic.twitter.com/Ez3ye9CaS1
— Oana Lungescu (@NATOpress) January 21, 2022
The U.S. has offered to hold a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin as a last-ditch effort to stop the slide to a new war in Europe, as Russia continued to build up its forces along the Ukraine border. It also announced new naval exercises in the Black Sea.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken said Washington and its allies were also ready to respond in writing next week to Russian demands on the future of the alliance and European security, which Moscow has said must be addressed to avoid it taking “military measures”.
Speaking in Geneva where he held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Blinken repeated the U.S, and NATO position there could still be no compromise on the central issue of the right of Ukraine and other countries to join the alliance in the future.