Russia and NATO meet to make or break talks on Ukraine crisis

The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting comes as the two sides are caught in a standoff over fears that Russia may launch an invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has rejected such claims. However, Russia is gathering more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, and on the eve of talks, the military began live-fire exercises in areas close to the border.

The United States, NATO and their allies are pushing Russia to de-escalate the situation. Moscow has sought security guarantees from the US and NATO, including a binding pledge that NATO will not expand further east and will not allow Ukraine to join a military alliance – something NATO is unwilling to do. .

“At this point, let me be very, very clear – no one is suggesting that we change NATO policy on expansion,” Julian Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, said. told CNN on Tuesday.

Instead of being framed as a bilateral NATO-Russia meeting, Wednesday’s gathering will see each of NATO’s 30 member states and Russia equally represented in a forum of 31. The meeting is the second of three major engagements between the West and Russia this week.

On Monday, representatives of the US and Russia were in discussions in Geneva for more than seven hours.

The marathon talks, which the White House described as “clear and forthright”, met with no success. Another round of talks between Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – of which the US is a member – is scheduled in Vienna on Thursday.

Ukraine said on Tuesday it was confident the US and other NATO countries would not decide “behind our backs” on the country’s “destiny” during meetings.