Afp, Ap and Sputnik

La Jornada newspaper
Saturday, January 8, 2022, p. 18

Washington. The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, considered that Russia’s military deployment on the border with Ukraine poses a real risk of conflict and that the Atlantic Alliance must prepare for a failure of diplomatic efforts.

Moscow’s military reinforcement continues over Ukraine and is accompanied by a threatening speech from Vladimir Putin if his demands are not accepted. But these are inadmissible and the risk of a new conflict is real, Stoltenberg warned, after a videoconference with the foreign ministers of the alliance countries. We must prepare for the prospect of the consultations failing, he estimated.

Westerners and Ukraine have accused Russia for several weeks of concentrating 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border with a view to a potential invasion and have threatened massive and unprecedented sanctions if Russia attacks.

For its part, Moscow demands treaties that exclude any future participation of Ukraine in NATO and a commitment on the part of the Atlantic allies to reduce their forces at Russia’s doorstep.

American and Russian diplomats will meet next Monday in Geneva, before a meeting between NATO and Russia scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels and then a meeting on Thursday in Vienna with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Kiev is a member of.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised Kiev that there will be no negotiations on Ukraine without Ukraine, but President Joe Biden is weighing the possibility of offering Russia a simultaneous reduction of troops in Eastern Europe as a first step towards ending the the Ukraine crisis, NBC reported.

We are ready to respond with force to a new Russian aggression. But a diplomatic solution is still possible, and preferable, if Russia chooses it, Blinken said.

Stoltenberg also estimated that the meeting between NATO and Russia, the first since the summer of 2019, is a positive sign, as tensions are very high.

But Western ministers also called for the Russian de-escalation to favor diplomacy, reiterating their red lines.

Russia wants to lead us to a debate on NATO, rather than let us focus on the real problem, which is its aggression against Ukraine, we will allow ourselves to be distracted by that, said Blinken in a very offensive speech in the eyes of Moscow.

Blinken also warned against the possibility of Moscow concocting a provocation or incident to use in its purpose to justify a military intervention.