The NATO secretary general has rejected any option to establish “second class” alliances ahead of the meeting with Russia next week as the Kremlin continues its military aggression along the Ukrainian border.
Jens Stoltenberg made it clear on a video conference on Friday that Russia should not have a say in which countries are allowed to join the Western bloc.
NATO FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS RUSSIA’S STRENGTHENING AROUND UKRAINE
“We cannot find ourselves in a situation where we have a kind of second-class NATO members, where NATO as an alliance is not allowed to protect them in the same way we protect them. other allies, ”Stoltenberg said.
His comments precede the United States and NATO’s meetings with the Kremlin next week in an attempt to ease tensions that have reached a boiling point not seen since the Cold War.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in December that he was seeking guarantees from the West that NATO would not continue to expand into the former Soviet state of Ukraine.
Putin has used the excuse of an alleged NATO-Ukraine threat to justify his accumulation of around 100,000 troops along the border with his neighbors in recent weeks.
Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it remains a NATO ally and has taken steps over the past decade to position itself to become a member of the 30-state alliance.
BIDEN, POUTINE TALKING BY PHONE THURSDAY, WEEKS AFTER THE VIDEO CALL
But Putin says NATO’s eastward expansion poses a threat to Russia’s security, as “strike weapons bases and systems” could be placed in Ukraine.
The United States and NATO have repeatedly stated that they will not be forced to a decision by Putin’s apparent ultimatum.
“They want to drag us into a NATO debate rather than focusing on the issue at hand, namely their aggression against Ukraine,” State Secretary Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday. “We will not be turned away from this question.”
“NATO has never promised not to admit new members; she couldn’t and wouldn’t, ”he said.
The Biden administration and its NATO allies argue that the best way to ease tensions on the Ukrainian border is through diplomacy with Russia.
The United States will meet its Russian counterparts on January 10 in Geneva before NATO and Russia meet in Brussels on the 12th.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
#NATO #appease #Russia #class #allies #meeting #looms