NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a joint press conference with Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration after their bilateral meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels Photograph:( AFP )
Moscow has laid down a raft of security demands for the US and NATO, such as excluding granting Ukraine membership of the alliance and pulling back forces close to Russia
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia of "severe costs" if it launches a further attack on Ukraine.
It comes after senior US and Russian officials launched special talks Monday aimed at defusing tensions over a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine, part of a flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe this week.
"I don't think we can expect that these meetings will solve all the issues. What we are hoping for is that we can agree on a way forward, that we can agree on a series of meetings, that we can agree on a process," Stoltenberg told a news conference alongside Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna.
"We are working hard for a peaceful political path and we are ready to continue to work with Russia to try to find that path towards a peaceful solution."
"We are aiming for an agreement on a way forward, a process, a series of meetings," he said.
"At the same time, we need to be prepared that Russia once again chooses to use armed force, chooses confrontation instead of cooperation," he added.
Moscow has sought to wrest a string of concessions from the US and its Western allies, including guarantees that NATO will no longer expand eastward into former Soviet states like Ukraine, along whose border Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops in steps that have raised concerns about a possible military intervention there.
The United States and NATO say large parts of the Russian proposals are non-starters and Stefanishyna said Russia's demands for security guarantees were no basis for negotiations.
"Russia demands unconditional surrender, demands to undermine the basic principles of functioning of the democratic countries and the principles of NATO," she said.
"We should all realise that Russia's demands to allies cannot be considered as a negotiating position."
"(The) aggressor is not in a position to put conditions until the Russian tanks are out of Ukrainian border."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and his delegation arrived under Swiss police escort at the US diplomatic mission in Geneva for face-to-face talks with Wendy Sherman, the US deputy secretary of state, and her team.
The meeting is part of “Strategic Security Dialogue” talks on arms control and other broad issues launched by Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin during a June summit in the Swiss city.
(With inputs from agencies)