The United States and Russia meet in Geneva on Monday. NATO and Russia meet in Brussels on Wednesday. Thursday is a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
It could be a fateful week for both the future of Ukraine and the state of security policy in Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a number of far-reaching demands to NATO: He demands a guarantee that NATO does not expand eastward. In addition, he will have some kind of veto against missile defense, the deployment of troops and exercises in NATO countries along the Russian border.
The requirements are described as ‘Impossible’ and ‘unreasonable’ by Western diplomats And something similar to that I hope the unicorn lives for Christmas By a journalist in the Russian newspaper Kommersant. The question is whether NATO countries are ready to meet Russia at any of these points at all.
We are pleased that the Russians are ready to meet us in the NATO-Russia Council next week, and we will enter those meetings with a genuine desire to find a political solution and prevent military conflict in Ukraine, says Jens Stoltenberg.
NRK meets him after the press conference after the virtual meeting between NATO foreign ministers, where the goal was to find a common line ahead of the many talks this week.
We will listen to Russia’s views and concerns. But we cannot compromise on basic principles, including the principle that all European countries are free to choose their own path. Of course, this also applies to Ukraine, says the Secretary-General.
Jens Stoltenberg’s predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, recently claimed that talking about Russian demands in a situation in which Russia has deployed 100,000 ready-for-invasion troops on the border is a lot like blackmail. You can’t negotiate with a gun pointed at you, the former Secretary General of NATO claimed.
– How realistic is the possibility of constructive talks next week?
– It remains to be seen how willing the Russians are to find a political solution and avoid military conflict. But Stoltenberg says it is at least a positive sign that Russia is willing to sit down and meet with NATO countries.
– I don’t think that all the problems will be resolved at the NATO-Russia meeting next week. But hopefully it will start a process, where we can also tackle a topic like arms control.
This may be where the bargaining chip lies.
At Friday’s press conference, Stoltenberg made it clear that in this case it should be a question of mutual disarmament agreements, not that NATO will unilaterally comply with Russia’s demands. The NATO Secretary General says such mutual agreements are not impossible, because the talks themselves can be seen as a cautious step in the right direction.
When I joined NATO in 2014, the dialogue with Russia stopped completely. Then we started it again, and that was important. Because I believe in dialogue with Russia. Norway has shown that it is possible to talk with the Russians, by cooperating in the North over many decades. Jens Stoltenberg says it’s possible to make deals and get things done together.
– The dialogue stopped again around 2019, but now at least we have agreed to sit down with them. It gives no guarantees, but it is infinitely better than a mere discussion through the media, or even worse – that countries meet on the battlefield.
ice cold conditions
Keeping dialogue open with Russia has been central to Stoltenberg from his first day in office as NATO Secretary General. Now, nearly eight years later, the situation is described as worse than it was after the Cold War. what happened?
– Is there anything NATO could have done differently in those years to prevent this bottom line from being reached?
You can always evaluate and discuss individual decisions. But we must bear in mind the basics here: Russia chose confrontation. Russia is becoming more and more authoritarian as a domestic system and more aggressive abroad toward its neighbors. This is the real problem, says Stoltenberg.
“The risk of conflict is real,” I said at the press conference earlier this afternoon. What exactly will NATO do if Russia decides to send these forces across the border?
The military build-up on the Russian side continues. We’re seeing very threatening rhetoric, where they warn of what they call “military technical consequences” if they don’t get what they want. We know from historical experience that Russia is ready to use military force against its neighbors. They have done this against Ukraine before. Therefore, we must be prepared for political talks not to succeed, and for there to be new military attacks from Russia, says Stoltenberg.
We send a clear message to Russia: It will have significant economic consequences for them if they enter. We must also help Ukraine defend its right to defend itself. NATO countries are doing this, with equipment and training.
Are you worried about the dramatic events in Kazakhstan? The past few days will do something about the negotiating position of Vladimir Putin – Does it become more important for him to show that he is the boss in his immediate area?
– I would be very keen to speculate whether Russia is linking what is happening in Kazakhstan with Ukraine. Anyway, it does not change our position on what is happening in Ukraine. As for Kazakhstan, we are deeply concerned about what is happening. It is very tragic for human lives to be lost. The violence must stop, and human rights must at least be respected, including the right to freedom of expression and to participate in peaceful demonstrations.
Last year with Stoltenberg
–We are in your final year as NATO Secretary General. What other challenges will dominate in the coming months?
The experience after nearly eight years in NATO is that it is very difficult to predict the next crisis or the next challenge. We live in an uncertain time. Rather than speculating what the next crisis we face will be, I worry that NATO must be prepared for the unprepared, says the Secretary-General.
It is about continuing the largest restructuring of NATO since the end of the Cold War. We have an ambitious program that we agree on before the Madrid summit in June. We must deal with new security threats, such as cyber and space warfare. In addition, there is a basic fact that the global balance of power is changing: China’s growth provides opportunities for all of us, but it also has consequences for our security. NATO has to deal with this.
.. And what about the job of the central bank governor?
Keeping NATO together is often described as Stoltenberg’s primary mission. This was especially true in the years when Donald Trump was president of the United States. Stoltenberg himself is highlighting securing unity as his most important task ahead of the last summit he will chair this summer.
It is no small feat to keep thirty countries with thirty different stories from both sides of the Atlantic together at an unpredictable time. But I am confident that the Madrid summit will show that unity.
– Unity and agreement are not what defines your new job. The last thing that came out is Siv Jensen, who is prompting you to withdraw your job application. How do you relate to that?
– I have applied for a job at the Bank of Norway as Governor of the Central Bank. I think everyone benefits from this process, which is done in the most natural way possible. Therefore, I will not enter into any political discussion about this process.
– You also do not want to say anything about the actual controversy that has raged in recent weeks?
– No, because I think it is important that such an operation takes place as natural and orderly as possible. If you start to think of something in such a discussion, it will contribute to the opposite.
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