Status: 01/27/2022 08:39 a.m
In the struggle for a peaceful solution to the Ukraine conflict, the first thing to do is wait. The reactions of NATO and the USA to Russia’s demands are before the Kremlin. Now it depends on his reaction.
In the international effort to prevent an escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all eyes are on Moscow. The US and NATO’s responses to the Russian government’s demands have now been received there.
However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko merely commented: “We read. Study.” After all, NATO’s position was “almost a month and a half” in coming.
Russia’s core demands are so-called security guarantees. Moscow repeatedly criticizes NATO’s eastward expansion and opposes Ukraine’s possible entry into the alliance.
Talk but no concessions
The tenor of the responses from NATO and the USA to these demands is that Russia has no binding commitments to end NATO expansion, and that Russia has no right of veto when choosing future allies. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of “core principles” to which his country has committed itself, and these are “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the right of states to choose their own alliances”.
But the US and NATO also said they wanted to talk to each other more and listen to “Russia’s concerns,” as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg put it, and then “have a real discussion about how we can protect the fundamental principles of European security […] preserve and strengthen”.
NATO is therefore proposing to reopen two missions in Moscow and Brussels that were closed after a dispute over espionage. In addition, there could be more exchanges via existing military communication channels, as well as in the NATO-Russia Council. The alliance and the Kremlin could, for example, find out more about planned military maneuvers or nuclear policy.
Reboot for Normandy format
There was also talk in Paris on Wednesday – more than eight hours. The meeting between representatives of Russia and Ukraine is considered a restart of the so-called Normandy format, in which Germany and France play the role of mediators.
The round of talks did not achieve a real breakthrough, but at least a mutual commitment to the Minsk Agreement, which is intended to secure a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. In two weeks there should be another consultation, then in Berlin.
Apparently up to 120,000 Russian soldiers at the border
Ukraine fears an invasion given the Russian military presence on the border, which has been massively increased for weeks. Despite the ongoing negotiations, Moscow seems to be continuing to strengthen its troops, the dpa news agency reported. She refers to representatives of western secret services. According to this, between 112,000 and 120,000 Russian soldiers have now been sent to the border area, including around 60 tactical battalion groups – highly flexible and fast combat troops with 600 to 1000 soldiers. In addition, there are up to 35,000 pro-Russian separatists in the contested Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
The US is again threatening Nord Stream 2 sanctions
The West is clearly on the side of Ukraine in the conflict. The German government has repeatedly stressed that Russia will pay a “high price” for “aggression” against Ukraine. In such a case, the USA is also threatening sanctions that could also affect the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 2. US State Department spokesman Ned Price has now renewed this leverage. “I want to say very clearly: if Russia invades Ukraine in one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not be realized,” he stressed.
The United States and the federal government only settled the dispute over the pipeline last July – albeit with the option of imposing further sanctions if Russia wants to use Nord Stream 2 as a means of pressure to assert its own interests.