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World News24

World News24

World News24

NATO chief pledges 'good faith' in Russia talks on Ukraine, security

Posted on January 7 2022, 18:48pm

NATO chief pledges 'good faith' in Russia talks on Ukraine, security

Brussels:  NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged on Friday to engage with Moscow "in good faith and on substance" in upcoming talks aimed at defusing tensions over Ukraine, but appeared to dismiss key Russian security demands.

"We must also be prepared for the possibility that diplomacy will fail," Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels following a NATO foreign ministers' videoconference.

The alliance chief said ministers had stressed "that any further aggression against Ukraine would have significant consequences and carry a heavy price for Russia," hinting at fresh economic sanctions.

Representatives of NATO and Russia are due to meet next Wednesday in at the alliance headquarters in the Belgian capital, with the 30 allies hoping to draw Moscow into sustained dialogue - and stave off military escalation in eastern Ukraine.

NATO and Ukraine, a close ally, are also to set to hold talks on Monday.

Fears are mounting in the West that Moscow could launch an incursion into Ukrainian territory akin to 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and began its ongoing support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia rejects accusations that it is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine, and in turn accuses Ukraine of having moved troops towards the Donbas region, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also demanded that NATO rule out its further eastward enlargement, including a pledge not to admit Ukraine to the alliance.

Russia says it feels its security is threatened by NATO's advance: Many former communist states that were either part of or closely tied to the Soviet Union have joined NATO since the end of the Cold War.

The Western military alliance has dismissed out of hand the idea it could present a threat to Moscow, however, slamming the claim as absurd.

Asked whether NATO could accept Russia's call to rule out Ukrainian membership, Stoltenberg said allies were clear there was "no way NATO can compromise on the principle of the right of every nation to choose its own path."

The matter is to be discussed at next week's talks, part of a flurry of international diplomatic activity aiming to dial down tensions.

Russian and US diplomats are also scheduled to meet in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday.

Stoltenberg said these were "an opportunity for Russia to demonstrate that it is serious about dialogue and diplomacy."

Speaking in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron called for direct engagement with Putin: "Dialogue does not mean making concessions. Dialogue means being able to take stock of our disagreements, but also trying to build a future."

NATO chief pledges 'good faith' in Russia talks on Ukraine, security
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