As talks between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia concluded on Wednesday, 12 January, Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of the former has warned of "a real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe."
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, who was present throughout the talks, stated that Russia would not hesitate from taking military steps if their political demands were not met.
The demands that the Russians are talking about are essentially a guaranteed end to the eastwards expansion of NATO, that is, a guarantee that Ukraine will not join the alliance in the future.
That demand continues to be unacceptable to the US and all the member states of NATO.
"We were basically saying to the Russians: some of the things you put on the table are non-starters for us. We are not going to agree that Nato cannot expand any further," a US delegation leader, the deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman said, as quoted by The Guardian.
NATO, an anti-Soviet military alliance established in 1949, continues to be the centre of diplomacy and military cooperation in Western Europe and some non-European states like the US and Canada.
Article 5 of the treaty commits members to mutual defence, that is, an attack on one member is an attack on all of its members.
Stoltenberg said that while the differences between Russia and NATO "will not be easy to bridge but it is a positive sign that all Nato allies and Russia sat down around the same table and engaged on substantive topics."
A more detailed explanation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict can be found here.
US intelligence had warned NATO and Ukraine a few weeks ago that the Russians are intending to launch a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as 2022 that could involve around 1,75,000 soldiers.
President Biden has promised to aid NATO troops and sanction Moscow, should push come to shove.
(With inputs from The Guardian)
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