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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma on Wednesday
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a plenary session of the Russian State Duma on Wednesday (Russian State Duma / TASS / Getty Images)

The written responses presented by the United States and NATO to Russia’s security demands fail to address Moscow’s main concerns over the eastward expansion of the military alliance, Russia’s Foreign Minister said Thursday, as fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine remain high.

“There is no positive reaction on the main issue in this document,” Sergey Lavrov told journalists in Moscow. “The main issue is our clear position on the inadmissibility of further expansion of NATO to the East and the deployment of strike weapons that could threaten the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Tensions between Moscow and Kyiv are at their highest in years, with a large Russian troop build-up near the shared borders of the two former Soviet republics.

Russia has repeatedly denied it is planning an invasion but has argued that NATO support for Ukraine – including increased weapons supplies and military training – constitutes a growing threat on its western flank.

Lavrov explained the US and NATO had previously agreed within the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) not to expand at the expense of Russia’s safety.

“We present non-verbal promises, written documents signed by the leaders of all the OSCE countries, including the President of the United States (Istanbul Declaration of 1999, Astana Declaration of 2010), our Western partners have to get out from a more serious situation, “Lavrov explained.

“This principle is clearly stated. It has two main interrelated approaches. First, the right of every state to freely choose military alliances is recognized. Second: the obligation of each state not to strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others, “he added.

“In other words, the right to choose alliances is clearly conditioned by the need to take into account the security interests of any other OSCE state, including the Russian Federation,” Lavrov concluded.

The Russian Foreign Minister conceded the responses by the US and NATO could lead to serious discussions but only on secondary issues.

“There is a reaction there that allows us to count on the beginning of a serious conversation, but on secondary topics,” he said.

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