Russia is seeking security guarantees from the West that include provisions requiring NATO forces to leave Romania and Bulgaria, the Russian foreign ministry said Friday.
Moscow has demanded legally binding guarantees from NATO that the bloc will stop its expansion and return to its 1997 borders.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the military alliance in 2004 after Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The ministry was replying to a question about what that would mean for Bulgaria and Romania, which joined NATO after 1997.
The ministry said Russia wanted all foreign troops, weapons and other military hardware withdrawn from those countries.
The Romanian foreign ministry called the statements in Moscow „inopportune and baseless.”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday called a meeting of the country’s top defense body on Jan. 26.
The security situation in the wider Black Sea area and NATO’s eastern flank are on the agenda. Security officials will discuss the response to new security challenges and increasing resilience.
Foreign Minister Bogdamn Aurescu tweeted late Thursday he’d been in contact with U.S. allies about the security situation in the Black Sea and Ukraine.
Substantive exchange 2day w/@JakeSullivan46 & #Allies in #B9 Format on t/worrying #security situation in proximity of #Ukraine & at #BlackSea.Stressed t/importance of transatlantic unity in our actions. Thanked US🇺🇸 4 solidarity, incl w/troops if t/situation worsens #EasternFlank
— Bogdan Aurescu (@BogdanAurescu) January 20, 2022
Bulgaria Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said his country decides on its defense plans in coordination with its NATO allies.
There are concerns in the West after Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border.
Russia denies it is poised to stage an offensive, but says it could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.
It wants NATO to promise not to admit Ukraine as a member. It has urged the Western military alliance to halt eastward expansion.
„Bulgaria is a sovereign country, which has made its choice long ago by becoming a NATO member. As such, we alone decide to organize the defense of our country in coordination with our partners,” the Bulgarian prime minister told parliament.
Bulgaria was one of Moscow’s closest allies during the Cold War era which ended in 1989.