NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance will not compromise with Russia on the issue of enlargement. According to him, NATO is not ready to abandon its fundamental principles.
“On Wednesday, Allies will meet with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council. The meeting will focus on the situation in and around Ukraine.
And the implications for European security. I also welcome that the United States and Russia will hold talks in Geneva on Monday. And that the OSCE will meet on Thursday," he said at a briefing, after an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
Stoltenberg said the talks would take place against the backdrop of aggressive actions by Russia, which continues to amass its troops near the borders of Ukraine.
"A series of talks next week will give Russia an opportunity to demonstrate that it is serious about dialogue and diplomacy. We are always ready to listen to Russian concerns, and NATO will always look for opportunities for a political settlement. But in order for the dialogue to be meaningful, it must also address the concerns of allies about Russia's actions," Stoltenberg said.
"It must be based on the core principles of European security. And it must take place in consultations with Ukraine. We are also consulting closely with other key partners. Such as Georgia, Moldova, Finland and Sweden, as well as the European Union.," the NATO Secretary General said.
At the same time, he stressed that NATO has to be prepared for "an option that diplomacy will not work."
"Therefore, today the ministers stressed that any further aggression against Ukraine will have significant consequences and a high price for Russia. NATO allies support Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, provide political and practical assistance," Stoltenberg said.
"All countries, regardless of size or neighbourhood, have a fundamental right to choose their own path and their allies," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin demands guarantees that NATO will not expand to the east, including to Ukraine. On December 15, 2021, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to Washington proposed agreements with NATO and an agreement with the United States on so-called security guarantees, demanding that NATO stop further expansion and that not accept Ukraine into the Alliance.
At the same time, Putin refused to give guarantees that Russia was not going to invade Ukraine.
According to the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Russia has deployed 122,000 troops in the 200-kilometer zone from the border with Ukraine and 143,500 in the 400-kilometer zone.