The first meeting since 2019 between high-level delegations from NATO and Russia on security guarantees in Europe in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council will take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, 12 January to exchange concerns over security issues.
The meeting comes after the US-Russia talks in Geneva which were held on Monday. The meeting will start at 09:00 GMT and be followed by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s press conference at around 13:30 GMT. The issues of arms control, European security and military transparency will be high on the meeting’s agenda. Both sides have declared that they have a number of issues and concerns to discuss and that they are serious about their positions.
The council will be chaired by Stoltenberg. The US delegation to the NATO-Russia Council will be headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Wendy Sherman. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov is expected to head the Russian delegation.
In December, Russia presented draft agreements on security guarantees in Europe to the United States and NATO. These guarantees include legal obligations that NATO will refrain from advancing eastwards and accepting new members from the former Soviet Union, especially Ukraine and Georgia, as these have expressed their desire to join NATO, as well as to refrain from creating NATO military bases on the territories of former Soviet countries. Another proposal is the non-deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles in the region.
NATO has already responded to some proposals, stating that Moscow cannot dictate whether Ukraine or other countries can join the bloc, and said that it was not ready to discuss such issues without Kiev. The US also reiterated that decision, saying that it will not allow NATO’s “Open Door” policy to be slammed shut. Nevertheless, some positive attitudes after the US-Russia talks may be projected for the upcoming meeting. After the meeting on Monday, the US expressed their assurance that a compromise on offensive missiles can be found with Moscow. The dialogue on the size and scope of military exercises and on improving transparency about those exercises may also lead to some compromises.
The sides are not expecting to solve all issues in one meeting. Russia has stated that the upcoming council will show whether consultations with NATO are substantial and whether this practice shall continue. NATO stated that Russia going for the dialogue is a “positive sign” and “an opportunity for Moscow to show it is serious about dialogue and diplomacy.”
The NATO-Russia Council will be followed by consultations with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday, 13 January.