Putin threatens the West – NATO is ready to talk
The Russian flag. pixabay.com
BRUSSELS / MOSCOW (dpa-AFX) – Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin has threatened the West with unspecified steps if his proposals for binding security guarantees are rejected. If the negotiations fail, the answer will “depend on the proposals that our military experts will make to me,” the president said on state television on Sunday. In view of the tensions, NATO is planning talks with Moscow. The NATO-Russia Council could meet in January for the first time in two and a half years. Moscow is still examining participation.
But Putin once again signaled his readiness to diplomatically resolve the new tensions in the Ukraine conflict. Talks with the USA are scheduled for January. In a draft agreement that has already been published, Moscow is calling for an end to NATO’s eastward expansion, which it sees itself threatened by. In addition, Russia wants to ensure that Ukraine does not become a member of NATO. The Western military alliance has always rejected this demand.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned on state television against dragging out the upcoming talks. “A decision is required, a quick, concrete solution – and a solution that suits our interests.”
For weeks now, the West has been particularly concerned about the fact that Russia has pulled together tens of thousands of soldiers in areas not far from Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow announced on Saturday that more than 10,000 soldiers were returning to their bases after a maneuver. It remained open, however, how many of them had been on the border with Ukraine.
At a press conference on Thursday, Putin did not give a clear answer to the question of whether he could guarantee that his country would not invade Ukraine. His spokesman, Peskov, commented on the fears of the West over the weekend: “Russia has never attacked anyone first.”
In 2014 Russia had annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea despite all international protests. The West has threatened Moscow with severe consequences in the event of an attack on the neighboring country.
At the moment, all signs point to dialogue. A NATO official said in Brussels that General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg had decided to convene a NATO-Russia Council meeting on January 12th.
Vice Foreign Minister Alexander Gruschko told the Tass state agency on Sunday that the time, format, modalities and composition of the delegation were currently being worked out. “Because military security issues are at stake, it is essential that senior military officials participate.”
Time and again there are tensions in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014. In the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Ukrainian government troops and Russian-backed separatists have been facing each other since 2014. According to United Nations estimates, more than 13,000 people have died there so far.
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj asked in a conversation with US members of the Congress and Senate that the UN should be included in the peace process. “Now more than ever it is not words that count, but decisive action. My goal is to stop the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine,” he said, according to the presidential office. The security of Europe is at risk.
In eastern Ukraine, shortly before Christmas, the conflicting parties agreed to abide by the ceasefire that had existed for a year and a half. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) nevertheless reported many violations. In a statement published on Sunday night, the OSCE complained that the work of the independent observers had been hindered the day before in the Luhansk region./cht/DP/he
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