NATO does not have the right of Russia to demand that we have second-class allies

Capitals – agencies: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia’s willingness to take the diplomatic path is positive, but the alliance cannot accept having “second-class” allies that it cannot defend.

“We are ready to engage in arms control efforts with Russia, whether conventional or nuclear, but it must be with the commitment of both parties,” Stoltenberg said after a meeting of foreign ministers of NATO member states on Friday.

“This is different from unilateral restrictions… We cannot end up in a situation where we have second-class NATO members and the alliance is not allowed to protect them,” he added.

Last December, Russia said it wanted legally binding guarantees that NATO would abandon any military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine.

The Secretary-General of NATO expressed his concern about the real danger of a conflict in Ukraine with the continued Russian military build-up on its borders, saying that he must be prepared for the failure of diplomacy.

Stoltenberg said that “Russia’s military reinforcements continue in the vicinity of Ukraine and are accompanied by a letter containing a threat from Moscow if it is not accepted. But it is not acceptable and the risk of a new conflict is real.”

For its part, the US mission to NATO said after the meeting of NATO foreign ministers that its 30 members are united against any Russian military action in Ukraine.

“All the foreign ministers of NATO member states, at the extraordinary session, emphasized our unity in response to any Russian aggression against Ukraine,” the mission said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“(The ministers) stressed the need for diplomacy, dialogue and de-escalation before the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council,” she added, referring to the meeting with Russian officials at NATO headquarters, scheduled for next Wednesday.

In a related context, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is heading to a European tour that includes Switzerland and Belgium, as part of Washington’s intensive diplomacy to develop a unified approach with its allies and partners to confront the Russian military build-up along the borders of Ukraine.

In a statement published on its website, the State Department said that Sherman will leave the United States on Saturday on a tour that will continue until next Thursday, with the aim of coordinating joint efforts to encourage Russia to choose diplomacy and reduce escalation in the interest of Euro-Atlantic security and stability.

The statement added that Sherman will lead the US delegation in Geneva, which includes representatives from the Ministries of State and Defense, the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, in an extraordinary session of the bilateral strategic dialogue between the United States and Russia, scheduled to start on the 10th of this month.

The US Deputy Secretary of State will then travel to Brussels on the 11th and 12th to hold consultations with NATO leadership, NATO allies, and EU officials to continue close coordination on European security in the context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

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