NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has invited Russia to more talks on the Ukraine crisis as fears mount over a possible breakout of conflict in Europe, but Moscow says it wants answers from the West over its sweeping wish list of security demands before engaging in further discussions.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said he had proposed a series of meetings in the NATO-Russia council to address both Moscow and the West’s concerns and “try to find a way forward to prevent any military attack against Ukraine”.
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He did not give an exact date for when the talks would take place, but said the discussions had been suggested for the “near future”.
“The main task now is to make progress on the political way forward,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “The risk of a conflict is real.”
Moscow has overseen a recent military build-up of up to 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting fears in Kyiv and among its Western allies of an impending invasion.
Russia, which annexed neighbouring Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014 and is accused of fomenting a pro-Russian separatist war in the country’s east, has denied having any such plans.
The Kremlin has emphasised that it is free to deploy its forces wherever it considers it necessary on its territory and has instead blamed the United States and the Washington-headed NATO military alliance for undermining the security situation in the region.