Ukraine: NATO resumes language with Russia

Posted on January 11, 2022, 6:58 pmUpdated: January 11, 2022, 7:24 pm

After raising the stakes dramatically, by demanding “legal guarantees” against any further NATO expansion to the east, Russia appears ready to give some time to diplomatic talks. On the one hand, the pressure continued, with about 100,000 soldiers deployed not far from the Ukrainian border and the first helicopter movements.

On the other hand, after an eight-hour meeting in Geneva with US diplomats, Russia returns for the first time in two years to NATO headquarters in Brussels for a new session of talks, before the opening of talks on Thursday with the 52 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe . .

The meetings are therefore linked, and after Moscow threatened to impose severe economic sanctions in the event of armed aggression in Ukraine, US and European diplomats began discussing possible ways for negotiations to resume dialogue with Moscow. In Geneva, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine, but again insisted that Moscow would not feel safe if other countries, notably Ukraine and Georgia, joined NATO. For her part, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman promised that Washington will present proposals at the end of the week, after the meeting between NATO and Russia.

Looking for a security framework

There does not appear to be a simple solution at hand, given that NATO is an open organization and Washington cannot deny the sovereign right of states to decide on their alliances. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We will not allow anyone to criticize NATO’s open-door policy.”

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Nevertheless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared his readiness to discuss useful “deconfliction” measures today, in particular on transparency and predictability of NATO military exercises. “It is possible to open files on the transparency of military exercises, risk reduction, and the issue of disarmament,” he said.

Replay the Normandy format

Since the abolition of the FNI treaty signed between the United States and Russia in 1987, which bans the use of nuclear warheads on medium-range missiles, Europeans have campaigned with the Americans to create a new security framework with Russia. Therefore, the dialogue with Moscow is organized and is now available in several carriers to calm things down.

In recent days, the French, after trips to Moscow and Kiev, have worked to realign the “Normandy” to implement the 2019 Minsk Accords. The first meeting could bring together diplomatic advisors by the end of January, we are assured at the Elysee. It is a framework that both Russians and Ukrainians seem to agree to once again to settle the Donbass issue.

“If we can review the Minsk agreements, so be it,” agrees Volodymyr Dubovik, professor at the Odessa I Department of International Relations. But he stresses that the Ukrainians hope first for a ceasefire, the exchange of prisoners and the opening of communication points on the border. But if we can avoid the invasion of Ukraine, we will take the shape of Normandy into account. “

Economic sanctions are under consideration

Other frameworks are related to regional security, key strategic balances and armaments, frozen conflicts… “It is good to have an organized strategic dialogue with Russia,” one of them explains at the Elysee Palace. The Americans are doing their part, but the Europeans need to agree on a common approach and get more involved. Thus, Poland was recently associated with the discussion of the Quint formula on Ukraine which brings together Germany, the United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.

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By Friday, and thus Orthodox New Year’s Day, we cannot hope for a rapid development, but diplomats can find a new timetable for negotiations, avoiding immediate military threats. This does not prevent the United States and its European allies from discussing what retaliatory measures to take if Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine.

Such as cutting Russia off from the international payment system Swift, limiting the ability of Russian banks to convert currency and imposing export controls on advanced technologies used in aviation, semiconductors and other components, as well as computers and other consumer goods in more extreme scenarios.

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