Jens Stoltenberg says alliance stands with ‘Ukraine’s right to choose its own path’.
BRUSSELS (AA) – NATO rejected a compromise with Russia on Tuesday concerning Ukraine’s membership prospects.
In a joint news conference following his meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg responded to the latest Russian security proposal in return for a guarantee that the alliance will not accept Ukraine as a member.
Underlining the consensus among NATO members with regards to Russia, he asserted the alliance is ready for a meaningful dialogue.
But Stoltenberg noted that any talks would need to be based on the core principles of European security and it would need to take place in consultation with NATO’s European partners, including Ukraine.
He reiterated the alliance’s position regarding the escalation of a Russian military build-up around its border with Ukraine.
“We have made clear that any further aggression against Ukraine would carry a very high price,” said Stoltenberg. “We will also continue to support our close partner Ukraine, politically and practically. And we stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and we stand also for Ukraine’s right to choose its own path.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, last month urged NATO to start talks to provide Russia with reliable, legally binding, and long-term security guarantees.
On Dec. 15, Yury Ushakov, presidential adviser on foreign policy issues, announced Russia handed a draft of its proposals to the US and NATO, and two days later the Russian Foreign Ministry published the text of the draft agreements, suggested by Russia.
In its proposal on security guarantees presented to the US and NATO, Moscow sought pledges from Washington and its allies that NATO would abandon its eastward expansion as well as the admission of former Soviet countries into the organization.
Russia also demanded that the US not establish military bases in countries of the former Soviet Union, non-NATO countries as well as not cooperate with these countries.
In 2014, Russia began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years.
For the second time this year, Moscow concentrated significant military troops in and around Ukraine.