The North Atlantic Alliance on Friday rejected Russia’s request to withdraw NATO’s Eastern Wing forces from Romania and Bulgaria, Reuters reports.
“NATO Allies will not give up their ability to protect and defend each other, including the presence of troops in the Alliance’s Eastern Wing.” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.
The Kremlin wants the state of 1997
Moscow on Friday, ahead of important Russian-American talks in Geneva, called on “withdrawal of foreign forces, equipment and armaments” from countries that were not members of the North Atlantic Alliance before 1997.
“These countries include Bulgaria and Romania,” The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, specifically mentioning these two former Allies under the Warsaw Pact, who became members of NATO in 2004.
Both Romania and Bulgaria have meanwhile identified this requirement as “unacceptable”. “Such a request is unacceptable and cannot be the subject of negotiations,” The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a press release.
They reject the idea of spheres of influence
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who is the country’s chief of the armed forces and is considered pro-Russian, said in a statement: “Russia’s insistence that NATO forces withdraw from Bulgaria is unacceptable and pointless.”
NATO has rejected Russia’s request, saying that if it were met, it would create categories of first-class and second-class members of the alliance, which it cannot accept.
“We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe. We will always respond to any deterioration in our security environment, including by strengthening our collective defense.” a NATO spokeswoman noted.