“The discussion was not easy” stated at the outsetNATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the end of a meeting of more than three hours of the NATO-Russia Council, Wednesday January 12, at the headquarters of the Alliance, in Brussels. “The exchanges were direct on the situation in Ukraine and major differences were noted on security in Europe. Our differences will not be easily overcome. “ Two days after the bilateral talks, between Americans and Russians, Monday January 10, in Geneva, it is the same report of divergence.
→ ANALYSIS. Ukraine and NATO, the story of a rapprochement
The thirty allies reaffirmed their refusal to accept Moscow’s main demand, namely a written guarantee on the non-expansion of l’Otan to Ukraine and Georgia, as well as on the non-deployment of a system of weapons and troops in the NATO countries bordering the Russia. “I reaffirmed the fundamental principles of the international system and of European security: each country has the sovereign right to choose its own path”, tweetaitUS Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the end of the session.
Moscow reserves its response
On the other hand, NATO member countries have offered Russia a series of meetings on broader European security issues, in particular on nuclear arsenals, missile deployments, conventional forces, transparency of military exercises and other confidence-building measures. “Russia was not able to agree to this proposal, even if it did not reject it”, added Jens Stoltenberg. A further indication that this type of decision is up to Vladimir Putin, whose true intentions Russian diplomats do not know.
→ EDITED. Ukraine, a European subject
“We can work together and make real progress” in those areas, Wendy Sherman said, though she didn’t sound too sure that Moscow would follow. “If Russia withdraws”, she commented, it will be “quite obvious that they were never serious about pursuing diplomacy”. The allies have also urged Russia to de-escalate in Ukraine, where nearly 100,000 Russian soldiers are massed near the borders, as well as to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors.
For its part, Russia insisted, according tohis representative, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, on “a concrete, substantial reaction, article by article, to the draft Russian agreement on safeguards”. In the absence of results, threatens Moscow, the probability of a “military and military-technical response” will be higher. Without going as far as direct military intervention, which the Kremlin says it does not want, it could be, according to Russian experts, the deployment of missiles in the Donbass or in Crimea.
A new meeting in Vienna
The diplomatic sequence will continue Thursday, January 13 in Vienna, as part of a meeting of the permanent council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This platform for East-West dialogue, stemming from the Cold War, brings together 57 countries, including several EU states that are not members of the Alliance, such as Austria, Sweden, Finland and Ireland.