NATO chief warns of ‘real risk’ of war as talks with Russia end
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned of “a real risk” of a new war in Europe, stressing the need for further dialog between members of the Western military alliance and Russia to resolve the ongoing crisis over Ukraine.
According to Press TV, Stoltenberg made the remark on Wednesday after four hours of talks at the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) over Ukraine ended without progress in Brussels.
The NATO chief described the meeting as a “defining moment for European security,” but said “significant differences” had remained on the issue of Ukraine potentially joining the US-led military alliance.
“We had a very serious and direct exchange on the situation in and around Ukraine and the implications for European security,” Stoltenberg said. “Our differences 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.”
“There is a real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe,” he said, expressing the need “to resume dialog and to explore a schedule of future meetings.”
Stoltenberg also underlined that Ukraine had the right to decide its future security arrangements, adding that NATO would continue to leave its door open to new members.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, for his part, described Wednesday’s talks as “serious, deep, and substantive.”
He also emphasized that NATO’s expansion posed a threat to Russia’s security, warning that Moscow would take military steps if political measures were not enough to “neutralize the threats” it faced.
Grushko said that the “further sliding of the situation could lead to the most unpredictable and most severe consequences for European security.”
“It’s absolutely imperative to end the policy of open doors and offer Russia legally binding guarantees precluding NATO’s further expansion eastward,” the Russian official said.
“The freedom to choose ways of ensuring one’s security must not be implemented in a way that infringes on the legitimate security interests of others,” he added.
Grushko did not rule out future discussions with the US-led military alliance.