Russia is calling for “withdrawal of foreign forces, hardware and arms” from countries that were not NATO members before 1997. Both Bulgaria and Romania were formerly part of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact that was created to rival NATO during the Cold War years. The two east European countries later joined NATO in 2004.
“It is about withdrawing foreign troops, equipment and weapons, as well as about other steps aimed at restoring the 1997 configuration of those countries who weren’t NATO members at that time and that includes both Bulgaria and Romania,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement published by the ministry on its website on Friday.
Lavrov was meeting the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Geneva on Friday to continue a flurry of diplomatic efforts to ease soaring tensions between Russia and the West.
Western Critics Call for NATO To end their Open Door Policy..
Meanwhile, even some Western critics have called for NATO to end its open-door policy, saying the Western military alliance is “too large and too provocative” for its own good and therefore “ill suited” to 21st-century Europe.
“This is not because Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is or because Putin is trying to use the threat of a wider war in Ukraine to force neutrality on that country and to halt the alliance’s expansion,” reasoned Michael Kimmage, a history professor at the Catholic University of America, in a scathing opinion piece published by Foreign Affairs magazine earlier this week.
“Rather, it is because NATO suffers from a severe design flaw: extending deep into the cauldron of eastern European geopolitics, it is too large, too poorly defined, and too provocative for its own good,” argued Kimmage, also the author of ‘The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy.’
He warned that the sheer enormity of the alliance, that is “a loose and baggy monster of 30 countries, encompassing North America, western Europe, the Baltic states, and Turkey,” and the murkiness of its mission risk embroiling NATO in a major European war.
“Ending the open-door policy, tricky as it would be to execute, and rethinking the security architecture of central and eastern Europe would not be a concession to Putin. To the contrary, it is necessary in order for the most successful alliance of the 20th century to endure and prosper in the 21st,” he concluded.
Hundreds of combat ready British troops could be sent to Ukraine’s NATO neighbours to bolster their security forces amid the threat of a Russian invasion.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland could all see an increase in NATO personnel after its member states held talks over expanding their presence in the region.
Britain already has 830 troops, tanks armoured military vehicles, self-propelled artillery, air-defence, intelligence assets and engineers in Estonia, where it is leading a battle group of 1,200. More than 300 French troops are set to join them.
Poland is also playing host to 140 British troops as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence mission, while around 100 British troops are currently in Ukraine.
Romania ready to host French troops: president
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday welcomed French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of a possible troop deployment on NATO’s Eastern flank as fears rise of a Russian attack on Ukraine.
Macron on Wednesday expressed France’s “readiness to go further, and within the framework of NATO to commit to new missions … in particular in Romania”.
“I warmly welcome President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement on France’s readiness to participate in NATO’s forward military presence in Romania,” Iohannis tweeted.
“The Romania-France strategic partnership will thus be reinforced on the Eastern flank, in the Black Sea region”, he added.
Romania, a NATO member since 2004 and which already hosts around 1,000 US troops on its territory, also said it was ready to welcome more American soldiers.
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that Washington would “actually increase troop presence in Poland, in Romania, et cetera, if in fact he (the Russian president) moves because we have a sacred obligation in Article 5 to defend those countries. They are part of NATO”.
“I welcome the explicit announcement of President Joe Biden to increase the US military presence in Romania, on the eastern flank, if the security situation deteriorates further”, Iohannis said.