NATO rejects Russia’s demands to limit its expansion

Brussels.- The NATO Secretary-General on Friday ruled out suspending the continued expansion of the military organization to address Russia’s security concerns. In doing so, Jens Stoltenberg rejected a central part of President Vladimir Putin’s demands to defuse tensions around Ukraine.

Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels before an extraordinary meeting of government ministers, “We will not question our fundamental principles, which include the right of each nation to decide its own course, such as the security arrangements to which it belongs. wants to be.” ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his aides held a virtual gathering in preparation for the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in more than two years. NATO ambassadors will have the opportunity to discuss Putin’s security proposals one-on-one with a Moscow envoy at a meeting in Brussels next Wednesday.

Much of the content of the documents released by Moscow — a settlement offer with NATO members and a treaty offer between Russia and the United States — appears to be non-negotiable between the 30-nation military organization, despite fears. Putin may order an invasion of Ukraine.

NATO will have to agree to suspend all membership plans, not only with Ukraine, but also to end its military exercises near Russian borders. In return, Russia will honor a signed international commitment to limit its combat strategy, aircraft over-flight incidents and other low-level hostilities.

Such an agreement would require NATO to reject a fundamental part of its base treaty. Article 10 of the Washington Treaty of 1949 establishes that the organization may invite any nation in Europe that is prepared to contribute to security in the North Atlantic region as well as to fulfill the obligations provided for in membership.

Stoltenberg said Russia continued its military deployment along the Ukrainian border, raising fears of a possible attack.

“We see armored units, we see artillery, we see combat-ready troops, we see electronic equipment and we see different types of military capabilities,” he said.

This deployment, along with Russia’s demands, and its track record in Ukraine and Georgia “is a message that there is a real risk of a new armed conflict in Europe,” Stoltenberg warned.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and later supported a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed in more than seven years in the fighting that devastated Ukraine’s industrial sector.

Russia denies that it has any new plans to attack its neighbour, but Putin wants legal guarantees that would end NATO expansion and weapons deployment. Moscow says it expects to receive a response to its security proposals this month.

This Friday’s meeting was the first in a series of high-level meetings of senior officials of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Russia, NATO, the United States and Europe, which are due next week.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that it was important to talk to Russia about its concerns. “We will talk to Putin again in the next few days,” he said.

“Dialogue doesn’t mean giving up,” Macron told reporters during an event in Paris to mark the start of France’s six-month term at the top of the European Union.