WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States and NATO on Friday completely rejected Russian demands that Russia could invade Ukraine, which it wishes to join, amid growing concerns that the coalition would accept new members. does not do.
Foreign Minister Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia would have no authority over who should be allowed to join the bloc. And, he warned Russia of a “forceful” response to any further military intervention in Ukraine.
His comments completely rejected a significant part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine. Putin wants NATO to halt membership plans of all countries, including Ukraine. The former Soviet republic is unlikely to join the coalition in the near future, but NATO nations will not rule it out.
Blinken and Stoltenberg spoke separately after an extraordinary virtual meeting of NATO foreign ministers. The North Atlantic Council meeting next week was the first in a series of high-level talks aimed at de-escalating tensions.
“We are prepared to respond to further Russian aggression, but a diplomatic solution is still possible and better if Russia wants it,” Blinken told reporters in Washington. He categorically rejected Russia’s claim that NATO had resolved not to expand eastward following the entry of several former Soviet satellites after the end of the Cold War.
“NATO promised never to accept new members; it could not and will not be,” Blinken accused Putin of raising a Strowman argument to divert attention from Russian military moves along the Ukrainian border. said.
“They want to drag us into the debate about NATO, rather than focus on that matter, which is their aggression towards Ukraine. We will not deviate from that issue,” Blinken said.
Earlier in Brussels, Stoltenberg made similar remarks as allies prepared for a flurry of diplomatic contacts that would begin between the US and Russia in Geneva on Monday and a NATO-Russia Council meeting and an all-out one with Russia on Wednesday. – Will go to the European meeting. Thursday.
“We will not compromise on the basic principles, which include the right of each nation to have its own way, including what kind of security system it wants to be part of,” Stoltenberg said.
The NATO-Russia Council meeting will be the first in more than two years and will give NATO envoys a chance to discuss Putin’s security proposals one-on-one with the Russian envoy.
Much of the documents have been made public by Moscow – a draft agreement Offering a treaty with NATO countries and between Russia and the United States — appears to be a non-starter in the 30-nation military organization, despite fears that Putin may order an invasion of Ukraine.
NATO will have to agree to stop all membership plans to end military exercises not only with Ukraine, but also close to Russia’s borders. In return, Russia will honor international commitments it has signed to limit war games as well as end aircraft buzzing incidents and other low-level hostilities.
Supporting such an agreement would require NATO to reject a significant part of its establishment treaty. Article 10. According to Under the 1949 Washington Treaty, the organization can invite in any interested European country that can contribute to security in the North Atlantic region, as well as fulfill membership obligations.
Blinken said Moscow was well aware that NATO would not accept the demands.
Blinken said, “Certainly part of (Putin’s) playbook is to prepare a list of non-starter demands as a whole and then claim that the other party is not involved and then use that as justification for aggressive action.” Do it.”
Stoltenberg said the Russian military build-up that raised concerns about aggression continues.
“We see armored units, we see artillery, we see combat-ready troops, we see electronic warfare equipment and we see many different military capabilities,” he said.
This buildup, combined with Russia’s security demands and its track record in Ukraine and Georgia, “sends a message that there is a real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and later backed a separatist insurgency in the country’s east. In more than seven years, the fighting has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial region, known as the Donbass.
Russia denies that it has new plans to attack its neighbour, but Putin wants legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and weapons deployment. Moscow says it expects a response to its security proposals this month.
Despite the rhetoric, Ukraine could not join NATO because Crimea was occupied and fighting in the Donbass because of the coalition’s collective security guarantee – that an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all of them – if the country became So it will be included in the war. Member.
In fact, large military forces are unlikely to be involved in helping NATO in the event of an invasion.
“Ukraine is a very close partner,” Stoltenberg said. “We provide aid to Ukraine. But Ukraine is not covered by the collective defense clause of NATO because Ukraine is not a member of NATO.”
Blinken and Stoltenberg had said that the US and NATO were ready to discuss arms control with Moscow, but Putin could not be allowed to impose sanctions on what the organization would do with Russia, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. How does it protect the member states close to the borders.
“We cannot end up in a situation where we have NATO class II members; where NATO is not allowed to protect them as a coalition in the same way that we protect other allies,” he said.
The NATO-Russia Council was established two decades ago. But NATO ended practical cooperation with Russia through the NRC after annexing Crimea in 2014. Wednesday’s meeting will be the first since July 2019. NATO officials say Russia has refused to participate in the meetings as long as Ukraine was on the agenda.
Cook reported from Brussels. AP writers Samuel Petrequin and Sylvie Corbett in Paris contributed to this report.