NATO offers Moscow to negotiate on missiles, stands firm on Ukraine

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO on Wednesday offered Russia talks on arms control and missile deployment with the aim of preventing any new conflict in Europe, while laughing at its refusal to grant Moscow a right of scrutiny on a possible accession of Ukraine to the Atlantic Alliance.

After four hours of discussions between the ambassadors of the thirty NATO countries and a Russian delegation to Brussels, the organization’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, warned that NATO would not let Russia dictate its demands. in matters of security on the continent and revive the “dangerous” idea of ​​zones of influence.

“There is a real risk of a new armed conflict in Europe,” Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference, a warning he had already expressed in recent days.

“There are significant differences between the NATO allies and Russia,” observed the Secretary General of NATO, noting the absence of a breakthrough at the end of this NATO-Russia Council, the first for two years. .

“Our differences will not be easy to overcome, but the fact that NATO allies and Russia sit around the same table and discuss important issues is a positive signal.”

Russia has forced the West to negotiate on security in Europe by massing last fall some 100,000 troops near its borders with Ukraine, according to estimates given by Kiev and Washington.

Moscow denies any desire to invade the former Soviet republic but demands binding commitments from the West to guarantee its own security.

The prospect of seeing Ukraine or Georgia one day join the Atlantic Alliance – a promise made in 2008 but never materialized since – is particularly brandished as a red line by the Kremlin.

For the members of the Atlantic Alliance, the Russian demands, expressed in December in two draft treaties, are unacceptable, in particular when it is asked to return to the level of activity which it had in 1990, during the dislocation. of the Soviet Union, and not to accept any more new members.


Jens Stoltenberg asserted that any use of force by Russia against Ukraine would constitute a serious political error for which Moscow would pay a heavy price.

In this case, he warned, NATO could deploy reinforcements on the territory of its member countries in Eastern Europe.

NATO is ready for further discussions with Moscow on a wide range of subjects, including arms control and missile deployments, he nevertheless assured.

Russia has asked for time to respond to this proposal but, according to US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, has not closed the door to discussions.

“Russia has heard clearly today from all the allies that it is very hard to have a dialogue, a diplomacy that can be crowned with success when in fact you have 100,000 soldiers practicing live fire exercises. , propaganda and information, “said the American diplomat.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, who headed the Russian delegation at NATO headquarters in Brussels, was to address the press later.

Wednesday’s NATO-Russia Council took place two days after negotiations between the United States and Russia in Geneva, the outcome of which the latter felt that the West did not take the measure of the urgency of its demands and warned that she wouldn’t let the discussions drag on.

Further discussions are scheduled for Thursday within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“The intense pace of bilateral and multilateral contacts this week shows that the United States and our allies and partners are not trying to buy time,” Wendy Sherman replied to reporters. “It’s Russia to make a difficult choice: desiccation and diplomacy or confrontation and its consequences.”

(With John Chalmers, Dmitry Antonov Moscow, French version Nicolas Delame and Jean-Stphane Brosse, said by Blandine Hnault)

by Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold

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