PictureRussia’s deputy defense minister, Alexander Fomin, left, and deputy foreign minister, Aleksandr V. Grushko, center, with the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, before their meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.
Credit score…Pool picture by Olivier Hoslet

BRUSSELS — With near 100,000 Russian troops massed close to the borders of Ukraine, NATO officers opened talks with a Russian delegation on Wednesday in an effort to hold off an invasion and calm tensions between Moscow and the West.

The assembly at NATO’s Brussels headquarters is the second cease in a diplomatic roadshow targeted on the Kremlin, after talks in Geneva on Monday between Russian and American officers. Looming over the high-level diplomacy is whether or not the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, will invade Ukraine as he seeks to strain the West to roll again NATO’s presence in Japanese Europe, or de-escalate.

The USA and its NATO allies hope that Mr. Putin will determine to barter, as he’s now confronted with threats of punishing economic sanctions and even of recent deployments in NATO allies bordering Russia.

NATO officers will not be optimistic, and so they query the seriousness of Moscow’s dedication to a diplomatic decision. Nonetheless, they are saying there are problems with European safety that may be profitably mentioned with Russia, together with nuclear stockpiles, missile deployments, limits on typical forces in Europe, higher security at sea and within the air, and extra transparency about army workout routines.

NATO has flatly rejected Russian calls for to cease additional enlargement with nations that want to be part of the alliance and to withdraw all allied troops from NATO members bordering Russia. Ukraine shouldn’t be a member of NATO, although the alliance promised in 2008 that it could be sometime.

The assembly in Brussels, below the chairmanship of the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, is predicted to final a minimum of three hours. The Russian delegation might be headed by a deputy overseas minister, Aleksandr V. Grushko, who was Russia’s everlasting consultant to NATO from 2012 to 2018.

It’s formally a gathering of the NATO-Russia Council, which was established in 2002 to debate mutual safety considerations however has been primarily moribund since April 2014 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

The American delegation might be headed by Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state who led the American facet in Geneva, along with army aides and Julianne Smith, the brand new American ambassador to NATO.

NATO has 30 members and so, in a way, the assembly is 30 towards one. However NATO officers say that they intend to hear and reply to Russian grievances and proposals.

Additionally they plan to element NATO complaints about Russia’s violations of earlier agreements just like the Typical Forces in Europe treaty and the treaty governing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Each pacts is likely to be renegotiated to the good thing about either side.

NATO officers emphasize that they wish to hold the give attention to Russia’s giant and persevering with army buildup surrounding Ukraine, slightly than on Russian wishes to pressure a renegotiation of the post-Chilly Battle safety structure in Europe.

After Monday’s talks, Sergei A. Ryabkov, who led the Russian facet, denied that Russia had any intention of a new military invasion of Ukraine. On the similar time, Mr. Ryabkov warned that if the West didn’t comply with Russia’s calls for to drag again NATO’s footprint in Japanese Europe and reject any future membership for Ukraine, it could face unspecified penalties that will put the “safety of the entire European continent” in danger.

Earlier than Wednesday’s assembly, Mr. Grushko instructed reporters that “the second of reality in our relationship with the alliance is arriving,” in keeping with Russian information companies.

Whereas Mr. Putin is most within the bilateral discussions with the US and regards each NATO and the European Union as subservient to American wishes and selections, the Biden administration has acquired good marks from its allies and companions, together with Ukraine, in making an attempt to maintain them briefed at each stage of the talks.


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