The negotiations were carried out amid tensions over Moscow’s military build-up near Ukrainian borders, still ongoing since mid-fall 2021.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chaired the meeting, while the Russian delegation’s leaders were Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Fomin.
In Moscow Russian President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov that Russia was concerned over any NATO expansion. Meantime, the main concern of the West was Russia’s ongoing massive troop buildup near Ukraine, which could be the Kremlin’s prelude to launching a further incursion into Ukrainian territory.
After the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO had a “serious and direct exchange” with Russian envoys on the topic of the Ukraine crisis. The Alliance and Russia have agreed to attempt scheduling more meetings of this kind, according to him, both parties had
“expressed the need to dialogue and explore a schedule of future meetings,” the NATO chief said.
- Read also: NATO officially gives Ukraine aspiring member status (2018)
Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that NATO wouldn’t agree to Russia’s demands for a new security architecture in Europe but wanted to continue diplomacy, and once again assured that Ukraine has the right to decide its future security arrangements on its own while NATO leaves its door open to new members.
“No one else has anything to say, and of course Russia does not have a veto,” he said.
After the NATO-Russia meeting, one of its participants, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman who was the top US negotiator at the Geneva talks, said at a briefing in Brussels that the US urged Russia to stay at the negotiating table after the first round of talks but continue discussions, including on topics such as arms control.
“If Russia walks away… it will be quite apparent they were never serious about pursuing diplomacy and that is why collectively we are preparing for every eventuality,” Sherman said in Brussels.
According to RFE/RL, Western officials and analysts see Russia’s buildup as an attempt to pressure the US and EU to make concessions.
- US House Republicans propose designating Ukraine a “NATO Plus” country, sanctioning Nord Stream 2
- Daily review: “Difficult” US-Russia talks on “security guarantees,” Germany arrests hero of war against Russia
- Ukraine will become NATO member when three capitals change their views, Foreign Minister says
- An ultimatum in any language: experts on Russia’s demand that NATO not expand
- Leaders of NATO Quint call on Russia to resume negotiations in Normandy format
- Putin’s offer to “stop NATO expansion”: the reason behind Russia’s month of aggression
- Daily review: Russia demands NATO rescind promise to Ukraine, US to press Ukraine to cede autonomy to Donbas