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NATO and Russia Discuss Frankly, however Previous One One other for Now

BRUSSELS — After 4 hours of talks with Russia, NATO leaders mentioned that they have been prepared to interact in severe diplomacy with Moscow over arms management and missile deployments in Europe, however they rejected outright Russian calls for that the alliance cease enlargement, pull again its forces from member states bordering Russia and assure that Ukraine won’t ever be a part of.

“Vital variations” remained between NATO and Russia, and “our variations is not going to be simple to bridge,” mentioned the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, after the assembly.

“There’s a actual danger for brand new armed battle in Europe,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned, one that might carry extreme financial and different prices to Moscow, he added, and would result in new navy deployments in member states close to Russia.

The USA and its NATO and European Union allies are urgent Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to desert any additional invasion of Ukraine, pull again his troops and have interaction in reciprocal diplomacy on Russia’s safety issues — and NATO’s.

Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO allies urged Russia to “instantly de-escalate the state of affairs in Ukraine,” where close to 100,000 Russian troops have massed near the borders, and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors. Russian representatives didn’t decide to pulling again the troops, nor did they reject the demand, officers mentioned.

NATO allies reaffirmed their refusal to just accept Russian calls for to cease additional enlargement with nations that wished to affix the alliance and to withdraw all allied troops from NATO members bordering Russia. These calls for have been repeated after the talks by the Russian deputy international minister, Aleksandr V. Grushko, a former everlasting consultant to NATO from 2012-18.

“It is a principled place, and we is not going to transfer from it,” he mentioned. However he known as the assembly “relatively trustworthy, direct, deep and complete,” including: “However on the identical time, it confirmed a large amount of divergence on basic questions.”

“This was a heart-to-heart dialogue,” Mr. Grushko mentioned. “I believe we have been capable of talk to the members of the alliance that the state of affairs is turning into insufferable.” It was an opportunity to remind NATO that Russia, too, might have a say in the way forward for European safety, which might “carry dangers,” Mr. Grushko mentioned. “We help peaceable options based mostly on stability,” he mentioned.

Mr. Grushko’s feedback indicated that Russia, for now, was not closing the door to additional diplomacy, regardless that it has not dedicated to talks past this week. Russian officers mentioned earlier this week that they’d wait till the tip of a full week of talks — which started with a casual dinner in Geneva on Sunday and can wrap up on Thursday in Vienna — earlier than making a call on easy methods to proceed.

Russian officers deny that the country is planning to invade Ukraine, however Mr. Putin has warned of an unspecified “military-technical” response if the West doesn’t comply with Russia’s calls for. Mr. Grushko reiterated that warning, with out including readability to it.

“If NATO strikes on to a coverage of containment, then there can be a coverage of counter-containment from our aspect,” Mr. Grushko mentioned. “If there may be deterrence, there can be counter-deterrence.”

Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state who led the U.S. delegation to the talks, known as a few of Russia’s calls for “merely non-starters” and emphasised NATO’s presents to Moscow for diplomacy.

Briefing reporters in Brussels, Ms. Sherman mentioned that NATO officers laid out for the Russians areas “the place we are able to work collectively and make actual progress,” together with on arms management, missile deployments, danger discount and better transparency in navy workout routines.

Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned that NATO allies supplied Russia a sequence of additional conferences on wider problems with European safety, together with the problems Ms. Sherman raised. However whereas the Russian delegation was usually constructive, he mentioned, they’d not or couldn’t decide to a brand new assembly. That’s one other indication that even Russia’s high diplomats might not know what Mr. Putin’s intentions actually are.

Ms. Sherman mentioned that she hoped that after this lengthy week of discussions with high Russian representatives, which continues on Thursday in Vienna, that they “will return to Moscow and that they are going to temporary the president of Russia, and that they are going to all recognize and perceive, and the president of Russia will agree, that diplomacy is the proper path.”

She mentioned the choice was as much as Mr. Putin. “If Russia walks away,” she mentioned, it will be “fairly obvious that they have been by no means severe about pursuing diplomacy in any respect.”

Washington and its allies promise “severe costs and consequences” if Russia additional invades Ukraine, imposing “a extreme worth on Russia’s economic system and monetary system,” Ms. Sherman mentioned.

Moscow’s selection can be necessary for the destiny of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, meant to move pure gasoline from Russia to Germany sooner or later, Ms. Sherman repeated. “From our perspective, it’s very laborious to see gasoline flowing via the pipeline or for it to change into operational if Russia renews its aggression on Ukraine.”

The pipeline, which isn’t but operational, is a Russian geopolitical undertaking that undermines the safety of a “important a part of the Euro-Atlantic neighborhood,” she mentioned.

The assembly at NATO’s Brussels headquarters was the second cease in a diplomatic roadshow centered on the Kremlin, after talks in Geneva on Monday between Russian and American officers. The assembly on Thursday in Vienna with the 57-member Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe, together with Ukraine, will happen at a decrease diplomatic degree — with ambassadors relatively than international ministers and different high officers.

If Russia decides to pursue its goals diplomatically relatively than go to warfare once more in Ukraine, among the negotiations on future European safety will happen beneath the auspices of the O.S.C.E.

The Russian delegation at NATO was led by Mr. Grushko and the deputy protection minister, Aleksandr V. Fomin. They spoke at size at the beginning of the assembly, laying out Russia’s calls for and issues. Within the subsequent exchanges, all 30 NATO members spoke with what Ms. Sherman known as “wonderful unity” on NATO’s core values, which embrace its openness to any nation that needs to affix and qualifies to take action.

Earlier than Wednesday’s assembly, Mr. Grushko informed reporters that “the second of fact in our relationship with the alliance is arriving,” in response to Russian information businesses.

“This wasn’t a simple dialogue, however that’s precisely why this assembly was so necessary,” Mr. Stoltenberg mentioned, including that NATO allies and Russia had “a really severe and direct alternate on the state of affairs in and round Ukraine, and implications for European safety.”

The USA and its NATO allies hope that Mr. Putin will determine to barter, as he’s now confronted with threats of punishing financial sanctions and new deployments in NATO allies bordering Russia, like Poland and the Baltic nations.

The difficulty of latest deployments is a reside dialogue, the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, informed Reuters. “In fact, we’re discussing with our allies to extend their presence right here to behave as a deterrent,” she mentioned. “When you take a look at the map, the Baltic states are a NATO peninsula and subsequently we have now our worries.”

Polish officers additionally appeared happy with the American and NATO responses to Moscow’s calls for. “Our place is obvious,” Lukasz Jasina, the spokesman for Poland’s international minister, mentioned. “Solely NATO and member nations determine about NATO issues. And nobody else.”

Russia is a neighbor however can’t be allowed to stress others, mentioned Poland’s deputy international minister, Marcin Przydacz. “What Russia has left is intimidation, however as this smaller companion, with a diminishing position on the planet, the argument that ‘if you don’t hearken to us, we’ll beat the smaller colleague’ can’t be taken into consideration.”

After Monday’s talks, Sergei A. Ryabkov, who led the Russian aspect, warned that if the West didn’t comply with Russia’s calls for to tug again NATO’s footprint in Japanese Europe and reject any future membership for Ukraine, it will face unspecified penalties that might put the “safety of the entire European continent” in danger.

The Individuals and Russians say that after this week, they are going to focus on whether or not to maintain speaking.

That’s, except Mr. Putin decides to argue that Washington and its allies don’t take Russia’s calls for significantly — and chooses to make use of this week as a pretext to go to warfare.

Anton Troianovski reported from Bratislava. Reporting was contributed by Monika Pronczuk in Brussels and Michael Crowley in Washington.

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