Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was unusually emotional at a press conference following the first meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in 2.5 years. Especially when he stated that, they say, the Alliance saved the lives of civilians in Yugoslavia (obviously, by bombing Belgrade), and the country fell apart as a result of internal political processes. He also tried to argue very convincingly that NATO expansion was not an act of aggression, but the spread of democracy.
We didn’t expect breakthroughs. The parties rather outlined their positions. The negotiations, according to Stoltenberg, were difficult. Question: how effective? From what we are now hearing from Brussels and Washington, disagreements persist on the key (imperative) points of Russia’s initiatives – guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion to the east and the return of the Alliance’s military infrastructure to the 1997 borders. The collective West still does not take Moscow’s proposals seriously enough, which, pardon the bluntness, have a direct projection on European security issues.
We look forward to January 14, when the final round of negotiations is to take place at the OSCE site in Vienna, and the Americans promise to send their written response following the results of Geneva. In the meantime, the impression is that Western partners are more along the path of groundless accusations of Russia of intentions to invade Ukraine.”