NATO evaluates Russia's security offer for Ukraine to end standoff

BRUSSELS, (AP) -- NATO foreign minsters discussed Russia's military buildup in Ukraine on Friday amid doubts about President Vladimir Putin's credibility as an offer to ease tensions ahead of a week-long high-level diplomacy aimed towards ending the standoff.

NATO evaluates Russia's security offer for Ukraine to end standoff

To prepare for the NATO-Russia Council's first meeting in over two years, U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken met with his counterparts online. The Wednesday meeting in Brussels will allow NATO ambassadors to meet face-to-face with Russia's Envoy to discuss Putin’s security proposals.

This is all part of a series of meetings that will include NATO, top U.S. and Russian officials, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

French President Emmanuel Macron stated Friday that Russia's concerns are important and that he would talk to Putin again "in the next days."

Macron said that dialogue does not mean giving up, speaking to reporters in Paris during an event marking the beginning of France's six month term as the head of the European Union.

Many of the documents Moscow made public, including a draft agreement between NATO countries and an offer for a treaty between Russia's and the United States, appear to have been a no-starter at the military organization of 30 countries. This is despite concerns that Putin may order an invasion in Ukraine.

NATO would need to end all plans to join NATO, not just Ukraine. It also needs to stop military exercises near Russia's borders. Russia would be required to respect all international agreements it has made regarding limiting wargames and ending aircraft buzzing and other low-level hostilities.

NATO would have to reject key parts of its founding treaty if it endorsed such an agreement. The 1949 Washington Treaty Article 10 allows NATO to invite any European country willing to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic region and fulfill its obligations.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Later, it supported a separatist rebellion within the country's eastern. Over the past seven years, more than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting that has decimated Ukraine's industrial heartland known as the Donbas.

Russia denies any plans to attack its neighbor. However, Putin seeks legal guarantees that will prevent NATO expansion and weapon deployments. Moscow claims it will receive answers this month to its security requests.

Two decades ago, NATO-Russia Council was established. After the annexation of Crimea by NATO, NATO stopped cooperating with Russia through its NRC in 2014. Wednesday's meeting will mark the first since July 2019. NATO officials claim that Russia refused to participate in meetings while Ukraine was on the agenda.

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