NATO-Russia Council meeting to defuse Ukraine crisis

NATO-Russia Council meeting to defuse Ukraine crisis

The United States and its European allies will hold talks with Moscow at NATO headquarters on Wednesday in an effort to reduce the risk of a new conflict in Ukraine, but Russia has shown no sign of appeasement.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Tuesday informed representatives of 30 NATO members about her talks in Geneva with Russian Deputy Secretary of State Sergei Ryabkov.

“There is no reason to be optimistic, but the Russians are seriously engaged in the diplomatic order,” a representative of a European country told AFP.

Moscow has agreed to reactivate the NATO-Russia Council, the consultative body created in 2002 and put on hold since July 2019.

Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grouchko, who called the meeting a “moment of truth” in Russia-NATO relations.

Wendy Sherman would represent the United States and France sent François Delatre, Foreign Ministry No. 2, to Brussels.

The Geneva talks were inconclusive. The Russians and the Americans have stood firm in their respective positions.

Moscow demanded a concrete guarantee from Washington and its allies that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO.

The Americans have made no concessions, but they have drawn up proposals to reduce the risk of conflict and begin conventional and nuclear disarmament, explained Julian Smith, the new United States ambassador to NATO.

Washington has assured Moscow that it does not intend to have offensive weapons in Ukraine, but has denied any intention to demilitarize Europe, for its part said a European diplomat.

“It is too early to say whether the Russians are serious on the diplomatic path, or whether they are ready to negotiate seriously,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“NATO’s relationship with Ukraine is an issue that concerns only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies, not other countries,” he reiterated.

– please the Europeans –

Wendy Sherman on Tuesday worked to quell the outrage of Europeans. She assured that nothing would be done without Europeans in terms of security in Europe, underlined the European diplomat.

“The United States remains committed to working closely with its allies and partners to encourage de-escalation and respond to the Russian-inflicted security crisis,” Sherman tweeted.

However, the NATO-Russia Council Geneva discussions run the risk of a recurrence, with each party holding onto its positions.

“Our expectations are completely realistic and we expect this to be a serious and in-depth conversation,” declared Alexander Grouchko.

Russia will demand a comprehensive response from the coalition on its demands. “We will push for a solid, adequate response, article by article, to the draft Russian Agreement on Guarantees,” he said.

But Moscow has shown no sign of appeasement. Sherman said Russia has provided no evidence that it will not invade Ukraine, and no explanation as to why it has deployed some 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border.

“We must exercise the greatest caution. We have no reason to believe that a process is being initiated. We are not even negotiating,” the European representative emphasized.

“Ukraine is showing great restraint and the Allies should avoid the pretext of shutting down the diplomatic order,” he said.

A meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is to be held in Vienna on Thursday.

France, for its part, on Tuesday referred to a meeting of the Normandy Group (France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine) “by the end of January”.

Russia has been avoiding this format of discussion for several months, which aims to implement the Minsk Peace Agreement (2015) on the Ukrainian conflict and refers to the first meeting of the leaders of the four countries in Normandy (west of France) in 2014. ,

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