Nato chief says gaps with Russia not easy to close

Brussels, Jan 12 (EFE).- A high-level meeting between Russia and Nato did not see the two sides overcome the differences in their stances on the situation in Ukraine, alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

“There are significant differences between Nato allies and Russia,” Stoltenberg said after the four-hour talks in Brussels.

“Our differences will not be easy to bridge,” he added while welcoming Moscow’s willingness to sit down around the same table and engage in talks with Nato.

Stoltenberg stressed the discussion was not easy, which is why the secretary-general showed up an hour late at the press briefing.

“But that is exactly why this meeting was so important,” Stoltenberg said, adding it had not been possible in the past two years to hold a Nato-Russia Council, which is the main platform for dialogue between Nato and Moscow.

Stoltenberg explained the Russian delegation headed by deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko raised the security proposals they made in December, including demands to stop admitting any new members to Nato.

“Allies on their side reaffirmed Nato’s Open Door policy. And the right for each nation to choose its own security arrangements,” he added.

The two parties, however, expressed their need to resume talks and set dates for future meetings, according to Nato chief.

“Allies would like to discuss concrete ways to increase the transparency of military exercises, to prevent dangerous military incidents, and reduce space and cyber threats,” Stoltenberg said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin announced that Russia will continue to carry out military drills in its territory, including those near the border with Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said during his daily press briefing that Russia has the right to conduct exercises as it sees fit, which, according to him, have nothing to do with the security talks with the United States and Nato.

“There is no relationship between these things. We are talking about our units, our military districts and our territory,” Peskov said.

Russia’s military drills “have been carried out, are being carried out and will continue to be carried out,” he added, noting it is a habitual practice of the armed forces.

On Tuesday, around 3,000 Russian soldiers have taken part in fresh shooting drills in regions near the border with Ukraine.

In recent months, Ukraine and Nato have denounced the massive buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine’s borders, which is sparking fears of a possible invasion.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov denied plans to attack Ukraine following security talks with the United States in Geneva on Monday.

“We have no plans, no intentions to attack Ukraine,” he said.

Ryabkov, however, said that Russia needs “rock-solid” guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will never become Nato members.EFE


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