BRUSSELS — With near 100,000 Russian troops massed close to the borders of Ukraine, NATO officers opened talks with a Russian delegation on Wednesday in an effort to hold off an invasion and calm tensions between Moscow and the West.
The assembly at NATO’s Brussels headquarters is the second cease in a diplomatic roadshow targeted on the Kremlin, after talks in Geneva on Monday between Russian and American officers. Looming over the high-level diplomacy is whether or not the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, will invade Ukraine as he seeks to strain the West to roll again NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe, or de-escalate.
The United States and its NATO allies hope that Mr. Putin will resolve to barter, as he’s now confronted with threats of punishing economic sanctions and even of latest deployments in NATO allies bordering Russia.
NATO officers usually are not optimistic, they usually query the seriousness of Moscow’s dedication to a diplomatic decision. Still, they are saying there are problems with European safety that may be profitably mentioned with Russia, together with nuclear stockpiles, missile deployments, limits on typical forces in Europe, higher security at sea and within the air, and extra transparency about navy workouts.
NATO has flatly rejected Russian calls for to cease additional enlargement with nations that want to be a part of the alliance and to withdraw all allied troops from NATO members bordering Russia. Ukraine will not be a member of NATO, although the alliance promised in 2008 that it could be sometime.
The assembly in Brussels, underneath the chairmanship of the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, is anticipated to final at the very least three hours. The Russian delegation can be headed by a deputy overseas minister, Aleksandr V. Grushko, who was Russia’s everlasting consultant to NATO from 2012 to 2018.
It is formally a gathering of the NATO-Russia Council, which was established in 2002 to debate mutual safety considerations however has been primarily moribund since April 2014 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
The American delegation can be headed by Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state who led the American facet in Geneva, along with navy aides and Julianne Smith, the brand new American ambassador to NATO.
NATO has 30 members and so, in a way, the assembly is 30 towards one. But NATO officers say that they intend to pay attention and reply to Russian grievances and proposals.
They additionally plan to element NATO complaints about Russia’s violations of earlier agreements just like the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty and the treaty governing intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Both pacts is likely to be renegotiated to the good thing about each side.
NATO officers emphasize that they wish to maintain the deal with Russia’s massive and persevering with navy buildup surrounding Ukraine, slightly than on Russian wishes to power a renegotiation of the post-Cold War safety structure in Europe.
After Monday’s talks, Sergei A. Ryabkov, who led the Russian facet, denied that Russia had any intention of a new military invasion of Ukraine. At the identical time, Mr. Ryabkov warned that if the West didn’t conform to Russia’s calls for to drag again NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe and reject any future membership for Ukraine, it could face unspecified penalties that may put the “security of the whole European continent” in danger.
While Mr. Putin is most within the bilateral discussions with the United States and regards each NATO and the European Union as subservient to American wishes and selections, the Biden administration has obtained good marks from its allies and companions, together with Ukraine, in making an attempt to maintain them briefed at each stage of the talks.