The White House has reportedly floated an offer to Russian President Vladimir Putin allowing Kremlin access to key NATO bases in exchange for Moscow de-escalating tensions over its military buildup on Ukraine’s border.
The proposal would also involve discussions about Russia verifying that the US has not deployed Tomahawk cruise missiles to bases in Romania and Poland, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
The reported offer would be contingent on agreement from US allies, including Romania and Poland, while Russia would also have to provide similar information about bases with ground-launched weapon system.
The overture reportedly is intended to ease Putin’s fears that the US could target Russia with the missiles.
The Russian leader has demanded a number of security guarantees from the US and its Western allies, including barring Ukraine and other former Soviet states from becoming NATO members and rolling back forces from Eastern Europe.
The US has rejected Moscow’s NATO demand as a nonstarter but has suggested the other issues could be part of ongoing diplomatic talks in its written response delivered last week.
Meanwhile, a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais indicated that Washington is willing to discuss promising not to install ground-based missile systems or deploy combat forces in Ukraine if Russia agrees to do the same.
The newspaper purportedly obtained documents that were part of the US and NATO’s written replies to Russia over the security demands.
“The United States is willing to discuss conditions-based reciprocal transparency measures and reciprocal commitments by both the United States and Russia to refrain from deploying offensive ground-launched missile systems and permanent forces with a combat mission in the territory of Ukraine,” read a copy of one document on the newspaper’s website.
Another document confirmed the reporting by Bloomberg.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the documents, saying “we didn’t release anything.” NATO said it doesn’t comment on “alleged leaks.”
Russia has amassed an estimated force of more than 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry along its border with Ukraine, and the US and its allies say an invasion could occur at any time.
Putin has denied Russia is preparing an attack, arguing instead that the presence of US and NATO forces in the region are exacerbating tensions.
In his first public comments Tuesday about the US response to his security demands, Putin said Washington “ignored” Russia’s concerns — but left the door open for more talks.
The leaked documents also included wording that reflected the US stance that “progress can only be achieved on these issues in an environment of de-escalation with respect to Russia’s threatening actions towards Ukraine.”
The revelations in the documents come as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to attend a NATO defense ministerial meeting on Feb. 16-17.
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said “it is essential for dialogue to continue” after meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday.
If not, he added, “it is clear that further aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences.”
With Post wires