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Diplomatic solution still preferable on Russian build-up around Ukraine: Blinken; NATO too mulls issue

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressing the media in Brussels on January 7, 2021. Photo: NATO

Washington, Jan 8 (MNN) US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken has echoed NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg that “Russia’s aggressive actions are a threat to peace and security in Europe” and stressed peaceful resolution to the matter if Russia so desires.

“We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression, though a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable, if Russia chooses it,” Blinken said.

He pointed out that NATO’s North Atlantic Council had met in Brussels on Friday (local time) to discuss their coordinated response to Russia’s military build-up along the Ukraine border and its “increasingly sharp threats and inflammatory rhetoric”.

“That’s what we, together with our allies and partners, will continue to pursue intently next week at the Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russia, and at the meetings of the NATO-Russia Council and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance regrets that despite calls from the international community, Russia has not taken steps to deescalate its military build-up in and around Ukraine, warning that the “risk of a conflict is real”.

Stoltenberg held an extraordinary meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on Friday (local time) to discuss what he said was “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military build-up” in and around Ukraine as well as its implications for European security.

“The Russian military build-up continues with tens of thousands of combat troops and heavy capabilities along with threatening rhetoric. Kremlin has a track record of using force against neighbours and its aggressive actions seriously undermine the security order in Europe,” he said while addressing a press conference at the end of the meeting.

He asserted that NATO remained committed to its dual-track approach to Russia — strong deterrence and defence, combined with meaningful dialogue.

Stoltenberg said that it is a positive signal that Russia is now prepared to come to the table for talks, asserting that dialogue is even more important amid high tension on the Russia-Ukraine border.

NATO allies will meet with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday to focus on the situation in and around Ukraine and its implications for European security.

He also welcomes the meeting of the US and Russia in Geneva on Monday and OSCE on Thursday.

“Next week’s series of engagements are an opportunity for Russia to demonstrate that it is serious about dialogue and diplomacy. We are always ready to listen to Russian concerns and will make every effort to find a political way forward,” Stoltenberg said.

“But for dialogue to be meaningful, it must also address allies’ long-standing concerns about Russia’s actions. It must be based on the core principles of European security. And it must take place in consultations with Ukraine.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss flays Russia on Ukraine border tensions

G7 Ministers condemn Russian military build-up on Ukraine borders, ask Kremlin to de-escalate

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