No Ukraine breakthrough, but NATO, Russia more interested in negotiations – Orange County Register


BRUSSELS (AP) – The United States and NATO rejected key Russian security demands to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine but on Wednesday left the door open to future talks with Moscow over arms control. missile deployment and how to prevent military incidents between Russia and the West.

The decisions were made at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, the first of its kind in more than two years. The fact that the Russian delegation did not walk out of the talks and remained open to the prospect of future discussions after their key positions were rejected were seen as positive notes in a week of high-level meetings. to prevent a fearsome Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants NATO to withdraw troops and military equipment from countries bordering Russia, including Ukraine and NATO allies such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Putin also asked the 30-nation military alliance to agree not to admit any more members.

Speaking after the meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman reaffirmed that some of Putin’s security requirements “simply didn’t start”.

“We will not close the door on NATO’s open door policy,” she told reporters after nearly four hours of talks. “We will not agree that NATO cannot expand any further.”

The meeting was held when an estimated 100,000 combat-ready Russian troops, tanks and heavy military equipment were gathered near Ukraine’s eastern border. The buildup has caused deep concerns in Kyiv and the West that Moscow is preparing for an invasion.

Russia denies that it has new plans to attack its neighbour, and in turn accuses the West of threatening its security by stationing troops and equipment in Central and Eastern Europe.

While noting that “escalation does not create optimal conditions for diplomacy, to say the least,” Sherman also expressed optimism after the Brussels meeting because Moscow did not reject the idea of ​​further negotiations.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said NATO nations and the Russian envoy had both “expressed the need to resume dialogue and find out the schedule of future meetings.”

Stoltenberg said NATO was keen to discuss ways to prevent dangerous military incidents or accidents involving Russia and its Western allies, reduce cyber and space threats, and place limits the deployment of missiles and other arms control initiatives.

But Stoltenberg says any negotiations on Ukraine will not be easy. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and backed a separatist insurgency in the industrial heart of eastern Ukraine in 2014. In the years since, the fighting has killed more than 14,000 people.

“There are significant differences between the NATO allies and Russia on this issue” on Ukraine’s potential NATO membership, Stoltenberg told reporters after what he said was “a very serious exchange.” closely and directly” with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin.

Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine has the right to determine its future security arrangements and that NATO will continue to leave the door open for new members.

“No one else has anything to say, and of course, Russia has no veto,” he said.

Grushko, who described Wednesday’s talks as “serious, insightful and substantive”, countered by saying that “one’s freedom to choose how to ensure one’s security is not exercised in accordance with way of infringing upon the legitimate security interests of others.”

He did not rule out more discussions with Western allies but mocked NATO’s assurances that it did not threaten Russia and warned that the alliance’s efforts to ensure its security by deterring Russia will fail.

“If NATO chooses to have a policy of deterrence, we will respond with a policy of deterrence,” Grushko said. “If it turns to threats, we will respond with threats in return. If we look for holes in Russia’s defenses, we’ll look for NATO holes. It’s not our choice, but we have no choice if we don’t reverse this very dangerous development.”

The Russia-NATO Council was established two decades ago, but full meetings were halted when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula nearly eight years ago. It has only seen each other sporadically since then.

Moscow’s draft agreement with NATO countries and the introduction of a treaty between Russia and the United States will require NATO to stop all membership plans, not only with Ukraine, and reduce the size of its presence in the countries. countries near the border with Russia.

Endorsing such an agreement would mean that NATO abandons the main tenet of its founding treaty, according to which the alliance could invite any European country of good will to join that could contribute to its security. in the North Atlantic region and fulfill the obligations of membership.

The Russian draft also proposes mutual limits on war games and confidence-building measures to prevent accidents involving warships and aircraft. Grushko said Russia would be ready to continue discussing those issues and arms control steps, such as not deploying intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

In the United States on Wednesday, Senate Democrats introduced a White House-backed proposal for legislation that would introduce sanctions on Russia if it sends troops into Ukraine. The measures will target Putin, his top military and civilian leaders, and top Russian financial institutions.


Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington, and Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report. No Ukraine breakthrough, but NATO, Russia more interested in negotiations – Orange County Register

Huynh Nguyen

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