Official: No concessions expected from Russia-NATO meeting

Jonatan Vseviov
Jonatan Vseviov Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

NATO does not intend to make any concessions to the basic principles of European security during the alliance's meeting with Russia in January, officials have said. Major breakthroughs are also not expected.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Jonatan Vseviov said on Tuesday: "No fundamental result can be expected from this meeting. Russia is reiterating the views it has already expressed in public."

Vseviov said these views have been assessed by NATO and security concerns will be raised at the meeting.

"Hopefully, it will also help to clear the air in some ways, in the sense that Russia will see with its own eyes that the allies are discussing their security issues together and, of course, do not intend to make any fundamental concessions to the basic principles of European security," he said.

The senior official denied Moscow had set the terms for the meeting.

"We have offered a NATO-Russia Council [meeting] several times in recent years, by which we mean, of course, NATO as a whole. Russia has rejected them. We have always thought that in order to avoid any misunderstandings, it makes sense to get together around the table," he said.

Russia and western countries will meet in January against a backdrop of Russia massing more than 100,000 troops and military equipment on the Ukrainian border. Experts fear Russia may invade the country early next year.

The U.S. and Russia will hold talks on nuclear arms control and tensions over Ukraine on January 10, the White House said on Monday. Representatives from Moscow and NATO are expected to meet two days later.

Russia has submitted a list of demands to NATO which includes moving forces out of countries along its border, including the Baltics.

Eva-Maria Liimets and Kalle Laanet. Source: Ken Mürk/ ERR

Speaking about the upcoming meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) told news portal Delfi on Tuesday: "Of course, we will listen to Russia's thoughts and concerns, but you can be sure that we will share our concerns about European security along with the allies at this meeting, including the illegal annexation of Crimea."

The minister said NATO will discuss its concerns together although Russia would prefer to do this bilaterally with the U.S.

"Russia considers it more advantageous to talk [only] to great powers and over the heads of countries that are directly affected by Russia's demands. The West has been very clear in its messages - no future negotiations on the basic principles of European security will be held," she said.

Liimets added it is important that both NATO and the European Union maintain their unity: "And that's what we will do."

Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) said Russia's demands are unacceptable.

He said the outcome of the meeting will depend on whether Russia actually intends to enter into a dialogue with the allies or continues to express its views unilaterally in the media. 

"Russia could prove that this is not another attempt to divert attention from its aggressive actions against Ukraine and other countries," the defense minister said.

He emphasized the most important point of the talks is Russia's aggressive behavior towards Ukraine. "This must be the first point of our dialogue," he said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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