NATO, Russia in a standoff after talks in Brussels – POLITICO


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NATO allies and Russia ended practically 4 hours of safety talks on Wednesday in a standoff, with the West flatly rejecting Moscow’s calls for for no additional growth of alliance membership and the withdrawal of NATO forces from Jap Europe.

“We are able to talk about many points however we can’t talk about some core rules,” NATO Secretary-Common Jens Stoltenberg informed a information convention following the assembly.

He mentioned that allies had been adamant they might not accede to Russia’s demand for a assure that Ukraine and Georgia by no means be a part of the alliance, nor would they permit Moscow to dictate the place allied international locations select to place their forces.  

Through the talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the NATO aspect proposed a sequence of extra conferences, however the Russians neither accepted nor rejected the provide, Stoltenberg mentioned.

The inconclusive final result advised that after Wednesday’s assembly, and an preliminary eight hours of bilateral talks with the U.S. in Geneva on Monday, Russian diplomats now must return house to obtain additional directions from President Vladimir Putin.

The conferences this week, which can be adopted by a third gathering Thursday in Vienna on the Group for Safety and Co-operation in Europe, had been referred to as in response to Russia’s mobilization of 100,000 troops alongside its border with Ukraine, and threats by Russia of a potential army strike if its safety calls for will not be met.

The present deadlock means a cloud of uncertainty continues to hold over Ukraine, which has been a goal of Russian aggression for the reason that 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea, and stays embroiled in a battle with separatists, armed and financed by Russia, in the jap Ukrainian area of Donbass.

“There may be a actual threat of a new armed battle in Europe,” Stoltenberg mentioned. “We’re clear-eyed. So we additionally conveyed a message to Russia that in the event that they use army pressure there can be extreme penalties; financial sanctions; political sanctions.”

In December, with the U.S. warning of a doubtlessly imminent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Kremlin put ahead two draft treaties that Western officers and diplomats mentioned would essentially rewrite the safety structure of Europe.

Amongst different calls for, Russia is insisting that NATO successfully rewind the clock to 1997 earlier than it admitted many new international locations from the previous jap bloc, together with Poland.

Stoltenberg, at his information convention, mentioned that Russia put these two proposed treaties on the desk throughout Wednesday’s assembly, which was the primary gathering of the NATO-Russia Council in greater than two years.

The secretary-general mentioned allies had demanded that Russia deescalate the state of affairs on the border by pulling again its forces however that Russian diplomats made no dedication to take action.

Different officers and diplomats mentioned that Russia used the session in half to air a litany of outdated grievances, together with over NATO’s involvement in the battle in Yugoslavia in the Nineties, and in addition its air bombing marketing campaign in Libya in 2011 that contributed to the dying of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO allies from the previous Yugoslavia had pushed again instantly in opposition to the Russian allegations.

At her personal information convention at NATO headquarters, the lead U.S. official in the talks, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, mentioned that allies demonstrated full unity in confronting Russia.

She referred to as the assembly a “outstanding expression of the facility of diplomacy” and mentioned: “Thirty sovereign nations spoke individually — NATO allies — and in addition spoke as one. The NATO allies spoke in full unity in help of a set of crucial worldwide rules — that each one international locations should have the ability to select their very own overseas coverage orientation, that sovereignty and territorial integrity are sacrosanct.”

Sherman mentioned Russian diplomats voiced considerations about their very own nation’s safety, however that a few of these considerations appeared to defy actuality. Citing Russia’s capabilities as a main nuclear energy and a everlasting member of the United Nations Safety Council, she mentioned: “They’re a highly effective nation. The truth that they really feel threatened by Ukraine …  is difficult to know.”