Leaders of NATO expressed their willingness to engage in serious diplomacy with Russia on issues such as arms control and missile deployments in Europe during four hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, but rejected Moscow’s demands that the alliance halt enlargement, withdraw its forces from member states bordering Russia, and guarantee that Ukraine will never become a member state.
Following the conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “significant divisions” remained between the alliance and Russia, and that “our differences will not be simple to reconcile.”
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is being pressed by the United States and its NATO and European Union partners to forsake any further invasion of Ukraine, bring back his forces, and engage in reciprocal diplomacy on Russia’s and NATO’s security concerns.
He said that NATO members asked Russia to “quickly de-escalate the situation in Ukraine,” where nearly to 100,000 Russian soldiers had gathered along the country’s borders, as well as to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring countries. According to authorities, Russian representatives did not promise to withdrawing their soldiers, nor did they reject the call for their withdrawal.
In a statement, NATO allies underlined their rejection to accept Russian requests to halt future expansion of the alliance with nations that desired to join, as well as to remove all ally forces from NATO members bordering on Russian territory. Grushko, who served as Russia’s deputy foreign minister from 2012 to 2018, and who previously served as the alliance’s permanent envoy in Brussels, reiterated those requests during the meetings.
“This is a fundamental stance, and we will not budge from it,” he said emphatically. However, he described the discussion as “very honest, direct, thorough, and complete,” adding that “at the same time, it demonstrated a significant degree of disagreement on basic concerns.” –
According to Mr. Grushko, the meeting was “a heart-to-heart talk.” We were able to convey to the other members of the alliance that the situation was becoming untenable, I believe.” In Mr. Grushko’s words, it was an opportunity to warn NATO that Russia, too, may have a role in the future of European security, which may “involve dangers.” “We are in favour of peaceful solutions that are based on balance,” he said.
Mr. Grushko’s remarks suggested that Russia was not shutting the door on additional dialogue for the time being, despite the fact that it has not committed to discussions beyond this week. Early this week, Russian officials said that they would hold off until the conclusion of a full week of negotiations — which started with an informal dinner in Geneva on Sunday and would conclude on Thursday in Vienna — before reaching a judgement on how the talks should proceed moving forward.
Polish officials also expressed satisfaction with the replies of the United States and NATO to Moscow’s requests. As Lukasz Jasina, a spokesperson for Poland’s foreign ministry, put it, “Our view is very clear.” “Only NATO and member nations have the authority to make decisions on NATO affairs. “There is no one else.”
Russia is a neighbour, but it cannot be allowed to exert pressure on others, according to Marcin Przydacz, Poland’s deputy foreign minister. As a smaller partner with a dwindling influence in the globe, Russia’s argument that “if you don’t listen to us, we will defeat the smaller colleague” will not be taken into consideration, says a senior Russian official.
Afterwards, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov warned that if the West did not agree to Russia’s demands to reduce NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe and reject any future membership for Ukraine, it would face unspecified consequences that would jeopardise “the overall security of Europe.” Ryabkov was speaking on behalf of the Russian delegation.
The United States and Russia have said that they will debate whether or not to continue talks beyond this week.
That is, unless Mr. Putin decides to claim that the United States and its allies are not taking Russia’s requests seriously — and decides to use this week as a pretext to launch a military strike on the United States.