NATO set to meet with Russia as world powers seek to ease tensions over Ukraine

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  • The NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels follows a series of high-stakes talks between Washington and Moscow, partly triggered by an offensive building up Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.
  • US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman began talks with her Russian counterpart this week in Geneva on Monday.

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WASHINGTON: Members of the world’s most powerful military alliance will meet with top Russian officials in Belgium on Wednesday to discuss ways to prevent a renewed conflict over Ukraine.

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The NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels follows a series of high-stakes talks between Washington and Moscow, which began with an offensive building up Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

“I don’t think we can expect these meetings to resolve all issues,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained during a press briefing this week.

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Stoltenberg said, “What we’re hoping for is that we can agree on a way forward, that we can agree on a series of meetings, that we can agree on a process. “

For months, Kiev has warned US and European allies that tens of thousands of Russian troops are gathering on its eastern border. The buildup has colored Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, that sparked an international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions on Moscow.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it was preparing for an invasion.

US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman began talks with her Russian counterpart this week in Geneva on Monday.

Sherman said that in his discussions with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, which lasted about eight hours, he conveyed the dire economic consequences the Biden administration was prepared to take against Moscow.

“We are very prepared and aligned with our partners and allies to incur those serious costs,” Sherman told reporters on a conference call after his meeting with Ryabkov.

“Those sanctions would include major financial institutions, export controls that target key industries, increased NATO force currency on the allied sector, and increased security aid to Ukraine,” said Sherman, the Biden administration’s NATO allies, European Coordinating measures with Council and G7 member.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland expressed a similar sentiment during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“We are very confident in consultation with our allies and partners. We have been working on this for about two and a half months at every level below the president. As I discussed, we have what kind of deep financial measures we need to take. gives a very broad stroke to a general understanding of what would be needed,” Nuland said.

“The US can take a set of measures and Europe and other allies can take parallel steps that are not exactly the same but also painful for Russia because we have different economic risks, but we are confident that we will be quite painful.” Coming around with a package,” she added.

In a separate briefing to reporters, Ryabkov said “no progress has been made” after his discussions with Sherman in Geneva.

He added that “it is absolutely imperative to ensure that Ukraine never becomes a member of NATO.”

Of Ukraine’s ambition to join the military alliance, he said, “We need ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees. Not assurances, not safeguards, but guarantees.”

Since 2002, Ukraine has sought accession to NATO, where the group’s Article 5 clause states that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all of them. Russia has described NATO’s eastward expansion as a “red line” that poses a security threat to Moscow.

Last month, President Joe Biden spoke twice with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid significant military build-up on the Ukrainian border. During the first call on December 7, Biden refused to acknowledge Putin’s “red lines” on Ukraine.

And during the most recent high-stakes call on Dec. 30, Biden reiterated concerns and renewed threats that his administration would strike a “decisive response” with allies and partners if Russia invades Ukraine further.

The Russian president has previously insisted that Moscow is not preparing for an invasion of its former Soviet neighbour, despite deploying more than 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border. Putin has also defended the right to deploy troops on its borders.

Sherman told reporters, “Nobody usually sends 100,000 troops to the border just to do exercises. It’s quite extraordinary and it’s all on the border with Ukraine. So clearly, it’s to send a decisive message.” “

“I will note that none of this was reported to anyone and that it is typical that we inform each other’s practice where we can, and they [the Russians] This can prove that they, in fact, did not intend to attack by de-escalating and withdrawing troops to the barracks,” Sherman said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the US military had seen “no major changes” in the number of Russian troops at the border.

“They have a huge force posture in the east, north and even south. And we haven’t seen any major changes in that,” Kirby said.

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