Russia demands 'concrete answers' on security from NATO to end Ukraine stand-off

WION Web Team
Brussels, Belgium Published: Jan 12, 2022, 05:42 PM(IST)

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Russian Deputy Defence Minister Colonel-General Alexander Fomin attend the NATO-Russia Council at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels Photograph:( AFP )

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Senior NATO and Russian officials are trying to bridge seemingly irreconcilable differences over the future of Ukraine, amid deep skepticism that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security proposals for easing tensions are genuine

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia has demanded ''concrete answers'' on security from NATO to end Ukraine stand-off.

''We are not negotiating from a position of strength, there is not and nor can there be any place for ultimatums here," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"The situation has simply reached such a critical point in terms of pan-European security and the national interests of our country...that we cannot delay further and the concerns we have voiced need concrete answers."

Senior NATO and Russian officials are trying to bridge seemingly irreconcilable differences over the future of Ukraine, amid deep skepticism that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security proposals for easing tensions are genuine.

Both sides remain wedded to their starting positions, and have begun a round of tense diplomacy with some 100,000 Russian troops massed near Ukraine's frontier.

Also see | Slew of disputes between former Cold War adversaries US and Russia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that “it is a timely opportunity for dialogue at a critical moment for European security. When tensions are high, it is even more important that we sit down around the same table and address our concerns.”

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The West defends NATO's "open-door policy" towards potential future members like Ukraine and Georgia, while Moscow is demanding a cast-iron guarantee that the alliance will not expand further towards its territory.

Also see | Rebel-held regions of eastern Ukraine are growing closer to Russia

"It's too early to tell whether the Russians are serious about the path to diplomacy or not, or if they're prepared to negotiate seriously -- we are," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

US President Joe Biden's spokeswoman insisted: "NATO'S relationship with Ukraine is a matter only for Ukraine and the 30 NATO allies, not for other countries to determine."

NATO allies say that many of Russia's demands, laid out in two draft treaties in December, are unacceptable, including calls to scale back the alliance's activities to 1990s levels and promise not to take in new members.

The NATO-Russia Council, their chief forum for talks, was set up two decades ago but full meetings paused when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has met only sporadically since, the last time in July 2019.
 

(With inputs from agencies)

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