Russia and NATO held talks today on the ongoing Ukraine crisis. During the four-hour meeting at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, NATO urged Russia to ease the crisis over Ukraine.
Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, setting off international fears that an escalation was possible. The talks today were the second in a series of three bilateral talks between Russia and other entities about the Ukraine situation.
Following the meeting, NATO’s chief said that significant differences with Russia remained. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the meeting was “not an easy discussion,” and that the “differences will not be easy to bridge.”
Stoltenberg said that the NATO allies urged Russia to de-escalate the Ukraine situation, and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighboring countries. The Russian representatives did not commit to pulling back its troops, but they also did not outright reject the demand.
Russia has been demanding that NATO does not enlarge to include Ukraine and that it also withdraws all allied troops from NATO member countries that border Russia. While Ukraine is not one of the 30 member states of NATO, the alliance promised the country in 2008 that it someday would be.
NATO allies reaffirmed refusal in accepting these demands. Earlier this week, the U.S. called some of these demands “simply non-starters.”
On Monday, the U.S. and Russia met for eight hours in Geneva for diplomatic talks about Ukraine. Today’s meeting in Brussels was the second stop in the diplomatic roadshow on the Ukraine crisis.
The U.S. and its NATO allies hope that Russia will engage in negotiations, and have confronted him with threats of new sanctions as well as even new military deployments to allied borders.
After Monday’s talks, Russia said that it has no intention of a new military invasion of Ukraine. But also warned that if the West did not meet demands to pull back NATO presence in Eastern Europe and reject Ukraine from membership, there would be unspecified consequences that would put at risk “security of the whole European continent”.