Will NATO engage with Russia’s security demands?

Will NATO engage with Russia’s security demands?

Russia wants NATO to ban Ukraine and former Soviet nations from joining, a request slammed as a non-starter by the West.


Brussels, Belgium – Foreign policy experts had waited expectantly during this past week, as US and NATO officials met their Russian counterparts to discuss averting the crisis over Ukraine.

Dubbed as critical for geopolitics, three high-stakes meetings were held in European cities, following on from last month’s talks between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

At Wednesday’s NATO -Russia Council meeting, which convened after more than two years in Brussels, officials spoke of the importance of dialogue for disarmament and missile deployments.

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But addressing journalists at a press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues. Our differences will not be easy to bridge.”

Despite massing troops at its border with Ukraine, Moscow refuses allegations from Kyiv and Western powers that it is planning an invasion. The Kremlin instead blames NATO for undermining the region’s security and has sent a wish-list of security demands to Washington – most of which have already been slammed as “non-starters”.

Primarily, Russia wants NATO and its allies to ban Ukraine and former Soviet nations from joining the alliance.

It has also called on NATO to scale back activities in Eastern Europe.

Fabrice Pothier, a strategy officer at policy group Rasmussen Global, named after its founder, the former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said negotiating with the Kremlin has always been challenging for the alliance.

“It’s very difficult for NATO to do anything which does not protect its own interests and values, obviously starting with the territorial integrity of its allies,” he told Al Jazeera.

“NATO can compromise on transparency, how its allies inform each other about military exercises and on positioning certain sensitive weapons systems along borders. But beyond that, NATO will never budge.”

The Western-led push for diplomacy gathered pace after approximately 100,000 Russian troops were spotted along the Ukraine-Russia border at the end of last year.