Russia demands rescinding of NATO promise to Ukraine and Georgia

FILE PHOTO: The Russian flag is seen through barbed wire as it flies on the roof of the Russian embassy in Kiev, Ukraine March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia demanded on Friday that NATO rescind a 2008 commitment to Ukraine and Georgia that they would one day become members and said the alliance should promise not to deploy weapons in countries bordering Russia that could threaten its security.

The demands were spelt out by the Russian foreign ministry in its fullest statement yet on the security guarantees that President Vladimir Putin says he wants to obtain from the United States and its allies.

“In the fundamental interests of European security, it is necessary to formally disavow the decision of the 2008 NATO Bucharest summit that ‘Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members’,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine is at the center of a crisis in East-West relations as it accuses Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive.

Russia denies planning any attack but accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior, and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.

The ministry statement followed a video call between Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden this week that was dominated by discussion of Ukraine.

The foreign ministry said Moscow was proposing a series of steps to reduce tensions, including to agree safe distances between Russian and NATO warships and planes, especially in the Baltic and Black Seas.

Moscow called for the renewing of a regular defense dialogue with the United States and NATO and urged Washington to join a moratorium on deploying intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe.

(Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Frances Kerry)

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