U.S. and NATO Reject Russia's Demands Over Ukraine, Leaked Documents Show

The U.S. and NATO have formally rejected Russia's demand for a guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance, according to leaked documents cited in the newspaper El Pais.

Much of what is said in the documents—published in the Spanish paper on Wednesday—mirrors what officials have been saying publicly, but there are suggestions that NATO and the U.S. could compromise in areas such as missile defence and transparency over military drills.

With Russian troops massed on the border with its neighbor, the U.S. did warn that "further aggression against Ukraine will force the United States and our allies to strengthen our defensive posture."

El Pais published the two sets of documents—one from Washington and the other from NATO—saying they were responses to Russia's demands made on December 17. These were a focus for high-level talks last month aimed at defusing the Ukraine crisis.

According to the newspaper, the U.S. document said it continued to "firmly support NATO's open door policy" but was "also prepared for a discussion of the indivisibility of security," which Russia has cited in its opposition to Kyiv joining the alliance.

The U.S. also said it would be prepared to discuss—along with NATO allies—guaranteeing the absence of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Aegis offshore sites in Romania and Poland, which Moscow fears could reach Russian territory.

This could happen on the proviso that Russia provided reciprocal transparency measures about two ground-launched missile bases in Russia "of our choosing."

Washington said it wanted to build on the New START nuclear arms control deal and include "new kinds of nuclear-armed intercontinental-range delivery vehicles" in future arms agreements.

But the U.S. expressed concern about Russia's breaches of a previous treaty and its production of weapons "not currently accounted for under the New Start Treaty."

Meanwhile, NATO said it would look at Moscow's proposals for a civilian emergency hotline and wanted to restore mutual diplomacy.

However, it emphasized that the reversal of Russia's military buildup by Ukraine "will be essential for substantial progress."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov would not confirm the documents' authenticity on Wednesday. According to the news agency Tass, he told reporters: "At this stage, at least, we don't want to discuss anything publicly."

He added that President Vladimir Putin had already given his view on the West's response to Moscow's demands.

On Tuesday, Putin said key areas of Moscow's concerns regarding Ukraine had not been dealt with by the West. These included stopping NATO expansion and a pledge that strike weapon systems would not be deployed near Russian borders.

In a statement to Newsweek, a NATO official said: "We never comment on alleged leaks."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

Ukrainian soldier
A Ukrainian soldier on the front line with the Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region on February 1. El Pais said it has leaked documents showing NATO and U.S. responses to Russia's demands to defuse the crisis. ANATOLII STEPANOV/Getty