Russia lays demands to diffuse situation with Ukraine

Russia has demanded strict limits on the activities of the US-led Nato military alliance in countries in Eastern Europe.

The demands, which are unlikely to be met, come amid Western fears Russia plans to invade its neighbour Ukraine.

Russia denies this, but wants Nato to rule out Ukraine and others ever joining the alliance to defuse the situation.

It has asked for urgent talks with the United States.

The US said it was open to talking but that it would be putting its own concerns on the table too.

“We’ve had dialogue with Russia on European security issues for the last twenty years,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Friday.

“That has sometimes produced progress, sometimes produced deadlock, but we are fundamentally prepared for dialogue.”

Earlier on Friday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the US will not go into the talks alone: “There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners.”

Nato, which was originally set up to defend Europe against possible threats from the former Soviet Union, has forces in the Baltic republics and Poland.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia had given the US and Nato two draft treaties. There was no other option, he said, as the “state of relations between Russia and the collective West is a total lack of trust”.

In the proposals Russia sets out a series of radical demands, which require countries that joined Nato after the fall of the Soviet Union not to deploy troops or weapons in areas where they could be seen as a threat to Russia. Heavy bombers and warships would not be allowed in areas outside their national airspace or waters from which they could launch an attack.

That would mean Nato not playing any role at all in any of the three Baltic republics or Poland. And Nato would have to abandon any plans for Ukraine and Georgia to eventually join the Western alliance.