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Representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia discussed face to face yesterday in Brussels over their differences in security matters, in a meeting that did not achieve concrete progress in the search to defuse the crisis on the Russian-Ukrainian border. .

At the end of the day of dialogue, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted “significant differences” in positions and admitted that these differences will be difficult to overcome.

“There are significant differences between the allies of NATO and Russia on these issues and the differences will not be easy to bridge, but it is a positive sign that all the allies of NATO and Russia are at the table,” he said.

At the meeting, NATO proposed to the Russian side to agree on a series of thematic meetings, although the Moscow envoys explained that they would need time to offer a response.

“Russia was not in a position to accept the proposal. They have not rejected it either, but the Russian delegation made it clear that it needs time to return to NATO with an answer, “he said.

“And of course at that time we will be ready to sit down” around the table for talks, he added.

However, Stoltenberg argued that NATO will not make fundamental concessions or accept that Russia has a veto power over which country can join the military alliance.

“Ukraine is a sovereign nation, it has the right to defend itself. And Ukraine is not a threat to Russia. It is Russia that is the aggressor. Russia has already used force and continues to do so against Ukraine, ”he added.

Differences in essential topics

In turn, the Russian envoy, Vice Chancellor Alexander Grushko, said that “the conversation was frank, direct, deep, intense, but at the same time revealed a large number of differences on fundamental issues.”

For the Russian diplomat, the expansion of NATO “will not solve any of the security problems”, and for this reason he considered it imperative that the military alliance cease its expansion.

Grushko warned that the continued deterioration of the situation could lead to “unforeseeable consequences for European security.”

For her part, the US Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman, said that Russia came to the meeting “to present its concerns” on security matters, but that now Moscow was challenged to respond to the offer launched by NATO to carry out a series of thematic meetings.

The idea, the US official pointed out, is to convince Russia to “de-escalate the situation, choose the path of diplomacy, remain engaged in an honest and reciprocal dialogue, so that together we can identify solutions.”

Cooperation between NATO and Russia, which had been frozen since 2014, broke down last October when NATO expelled eight Russian diplomats from its facilities, and in response Moscow decided to close its representative office to the military alliance. Ukraine the parties agreed to reactivate this NATO-Russia Council, as a way to re-establish a channel of dialogue.

Sherman had briefed NATO allies on Tuesday about talks he held in Geneva on Monday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov.

The talks held by Sherman and Riabkov in Geneva were inconclusive, as for now Russians and Americans have remained firm in their respective positions.

Russia, for example, demanded from the United States and its allies a concrete guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO.

The Russian delegation calls for the signing of binding agreements that close the door to the constant expansion of NATO and the realization of military maneuvers of that alliance along the Russian borders.

For their part, the Americans have not made concessions, but have made proposals to reduce the risks of conflict and initiate conventional and nuclear disarmament, explained the new US ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith.

In that scenario, Washington would have assured Moscow that it has no intention of placing offensive weapons in Ukraine, but has denied any intention to carry out demilitarization in Europe, a European diplomat said. (AFP)

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