Germany’s leading media outlets are paying some attention to the three-round talks between Russia and the United States, NATO and the OSCE on Moscow’s strong demands to provide it with exclusive and credible “security guarantees” for NATO’s non-proliferation to the East. Such demands of the Kremlin mean non-admission to the Alliance of Ukraine and a number of humiliating demands for NATO, which Moscow articulates in a demonstratively impudent and undiplomatic tone. It is noteworthy that the European media stubbornly call the events caused by Moscow’s aggressive policy in eastern Ukraine a “Ukrainian crisis”, in this term covertly supporting the real aggressor with whom trade is carried out and on whom the wealth of Europeans depends.
At the same time, the intensity of reports and their tone show that European political centers have a moderate attitude to the issue of ensuring collective security in cases where the United States is involved in the negotiations. However, the OSCE High Representative for International Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, spoke two days ago about the need for the EU to participate in talks to quell Russia’s aggression, which was apparently caused by his personal visit to Ukraine and his visit to eastern Ukraine. At the same time, the tone in the negotiations with Russia is set by the United States and NATO, which represent the factor of military power, the only argument that Russia understands and takes seriously.
On Wednesday, January 12, this year Brussels is hosting the second round of talks in the format of two and a half years of frozen NATO-Russia cooperation. The day before, the talks between the High Representatives of Russia and the United States at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers ended in Geneva unsuccessfully.
Side by side: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
and Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanyshyn. Photo: Yves Herman / Reuters)
The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung notes, citing sources in Brussels, that the very fact of holding talks in Brussels between NATO and Russia is “positive”. However, concerns in the Alliance, given the demonstrative movement of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, remain high.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had an intensive work schedule. She landed in Brussels on Tuesday morning and left the airport for NATO Headquarters, where she met with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The fact that Sherman briefed the ambassadors of 29 other Allies on her eight-hour meeting in Geneva with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in a wiretapping room was intended to show how closely Washington is working with its European partners.
The Alliance’s task was also to prepare for a difficult and tense meeting: on Wednesday, the Moscow delegation to the NATO-Russia Council will be headed by Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin and another Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko. The United States is represented by Sherman. Moscow’s controversial proposals for new security agreements for Europe will also be considered. The conversation is scheduled for three hours, but the Alliance believes it may take much longer, as Russian officials easily ignore time constraints.
It is also possible that the negotiations will end quickly.
On Monday, Stoltenberg said a “positive signal” that Russia had accepted an invitation to a NATO-Russia Council discussion two and a half years after the last meeting. The NATO Secretary General believes that this will be an “important week” for European security. At the same time, he complained that President Vladimir Putin was not only ignoring calls for de-escalation, but was also increasing the number of weapons on the border with Ukraine: “Russia continues to deploy tens of thousands of well-armed soldiers ready for battle.”
NATO and the EU consider Russia’s demands too one-sided
The Secretary General of the Alliance stated this together with the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanyshyn after the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. The alliance with Kyiv, which has been linked for weeks with a warning that an invasion of Ukraine will have “large-scale consequences and great losses” in the form of economic sanctions, has been reiterated. Although Russia denies any plans to invade, NATO members have not received any explanation as to why Russia is moving more and more armored and combat-ready units, artillery and electronic warfare equipment near Ukraine. Such actions do not go unnoticed by today’s intelligence capabilities, said Sherman, a senior US diplomat, after the strategic dialogue in Geneva: “It is no secret that we must see your troops. They know we see it. ”
The West rejects Moscow’s demand that Ukraine or Georgia not join NATO. Stoltenberg reiterated that such a decision could only be made by NATO members and the country concerned: “No one else has the right to talk about it.” The Secretary-General has expressed what many in the Alliance think: this meeting will not solve all the problems, but it is hoped that it will be a prelude to further negotiations. First of all, Stoltenberg would like to talk about European security issues, such as transparency of intentions in military activities or in the field of arms control. All agreements must be “mutually binding”. Behind this diplomatic wording is the belief of the EU and NATO that Russia’s proposals are too “one-sided” and that they do not reduce the concerns of Eastern Europeans, but increase them.
Prior to the meeting in Brussels, Moscow said it did not yet know “how we position ourselves with the Americans,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. According to him, there is no reason for optimism: only in the “coming days” we will know “in which direction the movement is carried out” and whether further discussions will make sense. On Thursday, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Russia and Ukraine, will address these issues.
Russia’s recent talks, which are alarming for international security and the ultimatum, have a measured format for presenting information in the European media. The United States and NATO are in control of the situation and have leverage over the negotiations, which were previously considered unpromising. At the same time, attack and transport helicopters have recently been transferred to Russia’s borders with Ukraine, which should demonstrate, in addition to the already deployed group of about 120,000 people, the increase in Russia’s combat capabilities and intentions to invade Ukraine. The results of talks between Russia, the United States, NATO and the OSCE at Moscow’s request will be announced later this week. But whether they will ease tensions and resolve the situation is unknown. After all, Moscow did not set such a goal for itself.