The United States may be willing to strike a deal with Russia to ease tensions over missile deployments in Europe if Moscow pulls back from the brink in Ukraine, according to a leaked document published in a Spanish newspaper on Wednesday.
The daily El Pais published two documents last week purporting to be written responses from the United States and NATO to Russia’s proposals for a new security deal in Europe. US officials could not immediately be reached to confirm a document is genuine.
Referring to the second document, NATO said it never comments on “alleged leaks”. But the text closely mirrors the latest statements made to the media by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg when he outlined the 30-nation military organization’s position on Russia’s demands.
The American document, marked as a confidential “non-paper”, indicates that the United States would be willing to discuss in consultation with its NATO partners “a transparency mechanism to confirm the absence of Tomahawk cruise missiles. at the Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland”. .”
This would happen on the condition that Russia “offer reciprocal transparency measures on two ground-launched missile bases of our choice in Russia.”
Aegis is a short to medium range missile defense system. But Russia has claimed in the past that the United States could attack with Tomahawk intermediate-range missiles from Aegis Ashore sites. The US document says Washington should consult with NATO allies on the potential offer, especially with Romania and Poland.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the leaked documents, saying only that “we haven’t released anything.” In comments to state news agency RIA Novosti, the Russian Foreign Ministry also declined to confirm or deny that the documents released by El Pais were genuine.
Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine have grown in recent months, after President Vladimir Putin deployed more than 100,000 troops to areas near Ukraine’s borders, including in neighboring Belarus, backed by tanks, artillery, helicopters and fighter planes. Putin says he has no intention of ordering an invasion.
The United States emphasized after its written proposals in the leaked document that “progress can only be made on these issues in an environment of de-escalation with respect to Russia’s threatening actions toward Ukraine.”