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Ministry chief: Recent US responses to Russia not concerning for Estonia

Jonatan Vseviov.
Jonatan Vseviov. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Recent overtures on possible armament talks and other dialogue made by the United States to Russia do not impinge on Estonian security, foreign ministry secretary general Jonatan Vseviov says.

Vseviov, a former Estonian ambassador to the U.S., told ERR Thursday that: "The U.S. has kept its allies informed of discussions between it and Russia on European security, and has formulated its positions based on the responses of both Estonia and the other allies.

Vseviov said: "In the same way, the development of common ground and positions has worked at the levels of NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), Russia's proposals to dismantle Europe's current security architecture have made public, and in the same way, it is common knowledge that neither Europe, NATO nor the U.S. can, nor will ever, agree to such proposals."

Vseviov noted that Estonia and other allies are ready to negotiate with Russia on transparent military exercises and armaments control, but the first step in these discussions must one where Russia demonstrates a clear will to improve European security and end destabilizing activities in its immediate neighborhood, and beyond.

As to the U.S. response to Russia's recent demands and invocation of OCSE principles on European security, Vseviov said: "There are certainly no promises or agreements in [the U.S.'] answers that would make Estonia's security situation worse."

"Based on these responses and the clear common positions with the allies, Estonia has no reason to worry that the security of the Baltic region will be weakened in any way. On the contrary, all signals from our allies show that both on the NATO and bilateral levels, they are ready to contribute more to our security," he went on.

Vseviov said that this had been a consistent response to Russia from the west, dding that Russia's demands are neither serious nor acceptable.

Joining NATO is up to the alliance and the applicant nation; the alliance is ready also to respond vigorously to any Russian incursion into Ukraine, Vseviov said.

The U.S. and NATO have suggested disarmament talks and confidence-building measures with Russia, via confidential written responses to the Kremlin's security demands, it was reported Wednesday following a leak of the documents' contents to Spanish daily El Pais.

Estonia's foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets said Wednesday that a recent letter from her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to various EU and NATO member states, including Estonia, calling on them to adhere to OSCE principles, such as those on indivisibility, contained nothing substantively new, and also represented a test of western unity.

Russia is an OSCE member state.

The letter referred to Russia's "serious concerns" on growing military-political tensions along its western borders and to Russia's proposals for security architecture in Europe, which Lavrov said lie in the interests of Europe's security, including within the context of the OCSE's Istanbul Document of 1999, the Paris Charter of 1990 and the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.

Russia has repeatedly demanded NATO not only not further expand eastwards, but also roll back its current frontier to the status quo in 1997.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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