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Putin must choose - VG

Putin must choose – VG

Great distance: Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg received Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Fomin (left) and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko at NATO headquarters.

NATO countries want to have more talks with Russia on a wide range of important issues. But it is clear that NATO is not ready to abandon the basic principles of European security policy in order to confront Vladimir Putin.


This is a captain. The leader expresses the position of VG. VG’s political editor is responsible for the leader.

This was stated by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference after the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday. It is now up to President Putin to choose between negotiations and relaxation, or escalation and confrontation. The most positive contribution now would be the reduction of Russia’s formidable military force on the Ukrainian border.

One of the basic principles mentioned by Stoltenberg is the sovereign right of European states to choose to establish foreign and security policy. The nations that have won freedom and democracy since the end of the Cold War have themselves chosen to join the Alliance.

It is also an important principle that all NATO member states are covered by the same security guarantee, and that any attack on one country is seen as an attack on all. Therefore NATO must do what is necessary to be able to defend all the countries of the Alliance, and of course also the member states of the East.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Whether they will become members in the future is a decision that must be made by Ukraine and all member states of the alliance. Russia does not have a veto.

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The Kremlin portrays Ukraine as a threat to Russia. This is silly because the opposite is true. Russia annexed Ukrainian territory, provided support to the rebels and amassed 100,000 soldiers on the border. From Moscow come threats against the neighboring country and NATO receives a list of demands that Putin must know are unacceptable. Putin has created a severe crisis. He can end it peacefully.

In a dark and dangerous time, it is finally a bright spot for the two parties to meet in the NATO-Russia Council. It has been more than two years since the previous meeting. It is important to listen to the other party, but to move forward, the conversations must be about something other than Putin’s impossible demands.

It is possible to talk about better control of weapons, greater transparency about military exercises, and better communication to prevent serious misunderstandings. The INF agreement, which banned land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, was terminated in 2019. There is a great need to resume negotiations on these missile weapons.

Putin should answer yes to Stoltenberg’s proposal for new talks. It is in everyone’s interest.