The NATO leader says differences with Russia are difficult to overcome
Differences between Russia and NATO over the Ukraine issue will be difficult to overcome, the Atlantic Alliance leader said after four hours of talks, during which Moscow pushed for Western security guarantees.
"There are important differences between NATO allies and Russia. "Our differences will not be easy to overcome, but it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia sat around the same table and engaged in crucial topics." told reporters NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Russia has forced the West to sit at the negotiating table, gathering about 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, a former Soviet republic aspiring to join NATO.
She denies planning to invade, but says she needs a series of guarantees for her security, including stopping any further NATO enlargement and withdrawing allied forces from the Central and Eastern European countries that were deployed. after the Cold War.
Stoltenberg said any use of Russian force against Ukraine would be a
serious political mistake for which Russia would pay a high price.
He reiterated NATO's position that only Ukraine and NATO can decide whether it becomes a member.
However, Stoltenberg said NATO was ready for further talks with Moscow on issues involving arms control and missile deployment, but that Russia had asked for time to respond.
Stoltenberg's remarks made it clear that there was no progress from the talks which came two days after Russian and US diplomats met in Geneva and did not report any agreement.
Russia has accused the West of failing to assess the urgency of its demands and said it would not allow negotiations to drag on indefinitely.
He says NATO enlargement from 16 members at the end of the Cold War to 30 now, including a large group of former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe, poses a threat to its security and it must decide "Red lines" and defend yourself.