Saturday

28th May 2022

Nato and US say No to Putin's ultimatum

  • Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg: "We are not naïve" (Photo: nato.int)
Listen to article

The US and Nato have formally rejected Russia's demands to withdraw Western forces from eastern Europe and abandon Ukraine.

"We cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which the security of our alliance and security in Europe and North America rest," Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday (26 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"This includes the right of each nation to choose its own security arrangements. Russia should refrain from coercive force posturing, aggressive rhetoric, and malign activities directed against allies and other nations," he added.

Nato, the same day, "in parallel" with the US, conveyed "written proposals" to Russia for new security arrangements in Europe, Stoltenberg said.

The Western proposals included reopening Russia-Nato embassies in Brussels and Moscow and making more use of "military-to-military channels of communications" to reduce the risk of an accidental clash.

They also included nuclear arms control and greater "transparency" on military exercises.

But they fell far short of Russian president Vladimir Putin's demands, issued last December, and they underlined that Ukraine was free to seek Nato membership whether Putin liked it or not.

"This is about respecting the right for self-determination," Stoltenberg said.

And Nato was sending more troops, fighter jets, and warships to the east in reaction to Russia's aggressive posture, Stoltenberg added, instead of withdrawing from the region, as Putin had demanded.

"We are removing any question about our ability to defend and protect all allies by increasing the presence in the eastern part of the alliance," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg nodded to the outlandish nature of Russia's earlier demands, which many Western commentators saw as a propaganda hoax.

"There's no secret that we are far apart," Stoltenberg said.

"Tensions are increasing. Russia continues its military build-up. And we see also more troops not only in and around Ukraine, but also now in Belarus ... and this takes place under the disguise of an exercise," he added.

"We are not naïve," Stoltenberg said.

"We are hoping for, and working for, a good solution, de-escalation, we are also prepared for the worst," he said.

Meanwhile, the US version of the Western proposals were personally handed over by the US ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, at the Russian foreign ministry on Wednesday for greater effect.

"Putting things in writing is ... a good way to make sure we're as precise as possible," US secretary of state Antony Blinken said.

"It remains up to Russia to decide how to respond ... We're ready either way", he said.

The West had offered Russia "a serious diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it", he noted.

"There should be no doubt about our seriousness of purpose when it comes to diplomacy, and we're acting with equal focus and force to bolster Ukraine's defences and prepare a swift united response to further Russian aggression," Blinken said.

Gas war?

The US and EU earlier promised "massive" economic sanctions against Russia if it attacked Ukraine once again.

But if Russia cut off EU countries' gas supplies in retaliation that would have "profound economic consequences" for Europe, according to a study by the Brussels-based Bruegel think-tank out Thursday.

Some EU states would need emergency curbs on demand, such as stopping factories, Bruegel said.

"Such a war-scenario would imply difficult and costly decisions for Europe," Bruegel's Simone Tagliapietra told Reuters.

EU ministers to condemn Russian 'aggression'

EU foreign ministers are to condemn "Russia's continued aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine", while promising "massive" sanctions at Monday's meeting in Brussels.

France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that Poland's recovery plan could be approved within a week. This could also help unblock Warsaw's reluctance to agree to the tax deal.

MEPs boycott trip after Israeli snub

Last-minute Israeli blacklistings and red lines have prompted MEPs to call off an official trip, posing the question if Israel can belittle the EU Parliament with impunity.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us