German media names date of Russia-NATO meeting
A NATO-Russia Council meeting could be held next month, for the first time in two years, a German report has claimed. Both sides have indicated a wish to defuse tensions around Ukraine.
The US-led bloc’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has decided to convene a meeting on January 12 and has been in contact with Moscow, Deutsche Presse-Agentur revealed on Saturday, quoting an unnamed official.
It’s not yet known if Moscow has agreed to the proposal, but Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said on Friday that the country was ready for a “direct dialogue” with NATO. She confirmed that the bloc offered to convene a meeting to discuss the tensions surrounding Ukraine. “We’re looking now at how we can arrange that,” Zakharova said.
Russia wants Stoltenberg’s organization to sign a treaty that would ban its further expansion eastward. This would effectively block Ukraine’s aspirations to join. Moscow has repeatedly said that it sees Western military infrastructure along its borders as a threat.
Stoltenberg rejected Russia’s demand, arguing that Ukraine has a “right to choose its own path.” NATO maintains what it calls an ‘open door policy’, meaning that any country can join if it meets certain criteria.
At the same time, Stoltenberg said his team was willing to sit down with Moscow. “We remain ready for meaningful dialogue with Russia. And I intend to call a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council as soon as possible in the New Year,” he said this week.
The simmering decades-long tensions around NATO expansion have increased in recent months, as Western officials and media have repeatedly claimed that Moscow is preparing to potentially invade Ukraine. Russia has denied these claims.