Today NATO warned of a “real risk” from a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg also said in Brussels that the alliance was ready to discuss arms controls with Russia. He insisted that without Europe, the US would not make decisions about European security.
“The risk of conflict is real. Russia’s aggressive action is seriously undermining the security order in Europe, ”said Stoltenberg after a video meeting of NATO foreign ministers ahead of talks with Moscow next week.
“We are ready to operate conventional and nuclear arms control with Russia, but that must be mutual,” added Stoltenberg.
“This is different from unilateral restrictions … we cannot get into a situation where we have second-class NATO members that NATO as an alliance cannot protect.”
NATO’s warning came when Foreign Minister Liz Truss again urged Russia to end its “malicious activities” against Ukraine.
Today NATO warned of a “real risk” from a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Pictured: A Ukrainian marine walks in a trench on the dividing line from pro-Russian rebels, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, January 7, 2022
Russia said in December that it wanted a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up all military activities in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
At a virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday, Ms. Truss said the Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian border was “unacceptable” and urged President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate.
“There is no justification for their aggressive and unprovoked stance towards Ukraine. We stand with our NATO allies in calling on Russia to end its malicious activities and to adhere to international agreements that it has signed voluntarily, “she said, according to a reading by the German Foreign Office.
“We will defend democracy in Eastern Europe and around the world. Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. It is clear to us that any Russian incursion would be a massive strategic mistake with considerable costs.
“The Russian government must de-escalate, use diplomatic channels and meet its obligations to ensure transparency in military activities.”
The warning came on Friday from NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg (pictured during today’s press conference), who also said the alliance was ready to discuss arms controls with Russia. He also insisted that the US would not make decisions about European security without Europe at the table
Truss held online discussions with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and her counterparts in preparation for the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in more than two years.
At this meeting on Wednesday in Brussels, the NATO ambassadors will have the opportunity to personally discuss Putin’s security proposals with Russia’s envoy.
This is all part of a spate of meetings involving NATO, senior officials from the United States and Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe scheduled for next week.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that it was important to speak to Russia about his concerns and that he would speak to Putin again “in the coming days”.
“Dialogue doesn’t mean giving in,” Macron told reporters in Paris at an event marking the beginning of France’s six-month term at the helm of the European Union.
Much of the documents Moscow has released – a draft agreement with NATO countries and the offer of a treaty between Russia and the United States – seem despite fears that Putin might order an invasion of Ukraine.
At a virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday, British Foreign Minister Liz Truss said the Russian military armament on the Ukrainian border was “unacceptable” and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin (picture on Thursday) to de-escalate
NATO would have to agree to stop all accession plans not only with Ukraine and to end military exercises near the Russian border.
In return, Russia would honor international commitments it has made to curb war games and end aircraft incidents and other low-level hostilities.
Approval of such an agreement would mean that NATO rejects a substantial part of its founding treaty. Under Article 10 of the Washington Treaty of 1949, the organization can invite any willing European country that can contribute to the security of the North Atlantic, as well as fulfill the obligations of membership.
Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and later supported a separatist rebellion in the east of the country.
In more than seven years, the fighting has killed over 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland known as the Donbas.
Russia denies new plans to attack its neighbor, but Putin wants legal guarantees that rule out NATO expansion and the use of weapons.
Moscow expects replies to its security proposals this month.
Russia has now deployed thousands of soldiers on its border with Ukraine.
The NATO-Russia Council was founded two decades ago. But NATO ended cooperation with Russia through the NRC in 2014 after it annexed Crimea. The Wednesday meeting is the first since July 2019.
NATO officials say Russia refused to attend meetings while Ukraine was on the agenda.