Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

NATO warns Russia it will not compromise on the alliance’s principles, but invites Moscow to more talks on Ukraine’s security fears.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military organization and Russia had agreed to try to set up more meetings to ease tensions between them amid deep concern in the West over whether Moscow was a invasion of Ukraine can order.

Speaking to chair of a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council Stoltenberg said Wednesday both parties “expressed the need to resume dialogue and examine a schedule of future meetings”.

He said the 30 NATO countries wanted to discuss ways to prevent dangerous military incidents, reduce space and cyber threats, as well as arms control and disarmament, including setting agreed limits on missile deployment.

But Stoltenberg said any talks on Ukraine would not be easy.

“There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on this issue,” he told reporters, after what he said was “a very serious and direct exchange” with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister , Alexander Fomin.

“There is a real risk of new armed conflict in Europe,” Stoltenberg added.

Moscow this week forced the West to the negotiating table by pulling together about 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that is striving to join NATO.

Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine, but said it needed a series of guarantees for its own security, including a halt to any further NATO expansion and a withdrawal of Central and Eastern alliance forces. -European nations that joined it after the Cold War.

Stoltenberg stressed that Ukraine has the right to decide on its own security arrangements on its own, and that NATO will continue to open its door to new members.

“No one else has anything to say, and of course Russia does not have a veto,” he said.

Stoltenberg also said that NATO had made it clear that it was ready to address issues such as missiles and mutually verifiable missile restrictions in Europe, but that Russia had “made it clear that they were not ready”.

The NATO-Russia Council is the first meeting of its kind in more than two years. The forum was established two decades ago, but full meetings were interrupted when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. It has since met only sporadically, the last time in July 2019.

Wendy Sherman, US Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, also stressed that any European country should have the right to join NATO if it wishes.

“I have reaffirmed the fundamental principles of the international system and of European security: every country has the sovereign right to choose its own path,” Sherman tweeted as the meeting came to an end.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler has said allowing Russia to join NATO one day is something the alliance cannot tolerate.

“This is the fundamental problem of this meeting,” she said.

“And it was made very clear by Stoltenberg that although you have two sides, Russia and NATO, which apparently agreed to at least continue dialogue, it seemed in the end that neither of them found any other common ground, but they are rather trapped in their positions, ”Butler added.

The talks took place during a week of high-importance diplomacy and a US-led effort to prevent preparations for what Washington believes could be a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has denied any involvement in the attack. Yet NATO is concerned about its history of military action in Ukraine and Georgia.

Stoltenberg, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin were tight-lipped before the talks. There was no public handshake, although the Russian delegation punched officials from the 30 NATO member states inside the meeting room.

Russia has accused the West of not realizing the urgency of its demands, and said it was unwilling to allow negotiations to continue indefinitely.

It said NATO’s 16-member expansion at the end of the Cold War to 30 now – including a large group of former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe – posed a threat to its security and it should now “red lines” draw to protect itself.

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