Tensions over Ukraine show no sign of abating as diplomatic talks move on.
Moscow has said that ties between Russia and NATO are approaching a “moment of truth” ahead of talks on Ukraine.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko’s remarks on Tuesday followed negotiations a day earlier between Russian and US officials in Geneva who launched a week of diplomacy aimed at easing tensions.
A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will take place in Brussels on Wednesday.
“It is no exaggeration to say that a moment of truth is dawning in our relations with the alliance,” Grushko was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
“Our expectations are completely realistic and we hope that this will be a serious, deep discussion on key, fundamental issues of European security,” he added, referring to the talks in Brussels.
Washington and Kiev say Moscow has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine in recent months, eight years after it seized the Crimean peninsula from its neighbor.
The military action has raised fears in Ukraine and US President Joe Biden’s White House of yet another Russian invasion and has led to threats of Western sanctions against Moscow in the event of an attack.
Moscow, in turn, denies planning an invasion and demands broad concessions from Washington and its NATO allies, most of whom have already been branded non-novices by Western powers.
Grushko said Russia would demand a comprehensive response from the alliance to its proposals.
“We will insist on a concrete, substantive, article-by-article response to the Russian draft agreement on guarantees,” he said.
Russia’s demands, unveiled in December, are aimed at restraining the US and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, saying the US-led alliance should not allow Ukraine or Georgia as new members or bases. in former Soviet countries should not settle.
After more than seven hours of negotiations in Geneva on Monday, Russian and US officials offered to keep talking, although there was no immediate breakthrough.
Moscow on Tuesday remained skeptical of progress and insisted it would stick to its position – that it would not allow its demands to get bogged down in tortuous negotiations.
“We will not be satisfied with the endless dragging out of this process,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Peskov’s remarks came after Linda-Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told Al Jazeera on Monday that she “willingly” believed Russia’s claim that he did not intend to invade Ukraine.
“But everything we’ve seen so far indicates that they’re making moves in that direction,” she told a news conference at UN headquarters in New York.
“If they have decided not to move forward, because of our commitment to them over the past few weeks … then that’s a good thing, but we will continue to prepare and plan to respond, they would take any action against Ukraine. “
Wednesday’s talks will be followed on Thursday by a meeting in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).