15 Jan. 2022 07:30
After talks between Russia and US-led NATO collapsed because the alliance essentially refused to address Russia’s concerns about the bloc’s continued eastward expansion, the Russian Defense Ministry has issued an unequivocal warning.
NATO-Russia relations have fallen to an alarming low, the Russian Defense Ministry has warned following talks between the US-led military bloc and Moscow over security issues on the European continent.
After a meeting between the two parties in Brussels on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin stressed that Russia expects a constructive discussion on the proposed guarantees.
“The Russian side has that [Block] repeatedly suggested taking measures to de-escalate the situation,” the ministry’s press service quoted him as saying, adding that Moscow’s initiatives were ignored.
The ministry quoted the official as warning that relations between Russia and NATO are at a critically low level. He added that “this sets the stage for incidents and conflict and undermines the fundamentals of security.”
Fomin’s comments follow a summit between NATO officials and Russian diplomats. On Wednesday, the secretary-general of the military bloc, Jens Stoltenberg, told reporters that the two sides had a “frank and frank discussion on a wide range of issues, with, of course, the focus on tensions in and around Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg said NATO was ready to schedule “a series of meetings with Moscow on various issues, including limitations on missile weapons in Europe.”
He also said that NATO is interested in “finding ways to develop civil and military communications channels, as well as the possibility of resuming work of our missions in Moscow and Brussels.”
However, the veteran official made it clear that the organization would not back down and compromise its core principles in order to placate Russia.
Moscow has asked for written guarantees that Kiev will not be included in the bloc. However, Stoltenberg emphasized that “only Ukraine and 30 allies can decide when Ukraine will become a member (…) Russia has no right of veto”.
Last month Moscow submitted two draft treaties – one to Washington and one to NATO – that contained further requirements regarding the movement of military personnel and materiel and a request to resist further expansion of the organization.
Relations between NATO and the world’s largest country have been increasingly strained in recent months. In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said dialogue between the two parties had proved fruitless in the past and that the military bloc was more interested in “conducting propaganda and putting pressure on Russia” on Ukraine.
In October Moscow announced that it would suspend all direct bilateral relations with the bloc and close its offices in the capital. With this step, Moscow reacted to the expulsion of eight Russian diplomats from the NATO headquarters in Brussels, which was justified with the accusation of involvement in “espionage”, which Russia denies.
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