Russia and NATO meet for make-or-break talks on Ukraine crisis

Sherman informed reporters that Wednesday’s assembly between NATO and Russia ended with a “sober challenge from the NATO allies to Russia” to reply to the alternatives provided by the worldwide group to de-escalate the scenario on the border with Ukraine and select the trail of diplomacy.

But Sherman, who spoke forcefully in regards to the West’s unified message to Moscow following the roughly four-hour session in Brussels, made clear the US and its Western allies do not but know what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goals are following the diplomatic conferences, with greater than 100,000 Russian troops positioned on the Ukrainian border.

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In statements Wednesday, Russian officers steered Moscow might resort to navy motion if political efforts fail. That warning got here a day after the Russian navy carried out live-fire workouts alongside the border.

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“When live fire exercises are reported this morning. What is this about?” Sherman mentioned, referring to studies about Russian workouts. “Is this about invasion? Is this about intimidation? Is this about trying to be subversive? I don’t know. But it is not conducive to getting diplomatic solutions.”

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Asked by CNN’s Alex Marquardt if the Russians had made any commitments to de-escalate, Sherman mentioned they didn’t.

“There was no commitment to de-escalation, no,” she mentioned, earlier than pausing and including: “Nor was there a statement that there would not be.”

Sherman steered that the Russians themselves could not even understand how they intend to make use of or act upon this week’s diplomatic talks with the US and NATO. She mentioned that the US believes that progress will be made — if Russia engages on points the place there are overlapping pursuits.

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“There is plenty to work on, where we have places where we can enhance mutual security. There are some places we cannot. But there is progress that can be made,” Sherman mentioned.

Sherman informed CNN’s Christianne Amanpour later Wednesday that she believed Putin amassed troops on the border of Ukraine to be able to “put pressure on Europe and the United States, to put pressure on the euro Atlantic ambition, to… intimidate, to coerce, and to say ‘I’ve got sticks I can bring to this discussion’ as well.”

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Russia says scenario is turning into ‘insupportable’

Following Wednesday’s conferences, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko warned that Moscow would resort to navy measures if the political course fails to fend off threats to its safety, based on Russian state media RIA Novosti.

“We have a set of legal military-technical measures that we will apply if we feel a real threat to (our) security, and we already feel (it), if our territory is considered as an object for targeted strike weapons,” Grushko informed reporters, based on Russian state media. “Of course, we cannot agree with this. We will take all necessary measures to fend off the threat by military means if it does not work out with political means.”

Russia’s deputy protection minister Alexander Fomin additionally issued a press release Wednesday sounding pessimistic in regards to the talks, saying it was NATO who was ignoring Russia’s proposals to de-escalate — and warning that might result in conflicts.

“The Russian side has repeatedly proposed to the alliance to take measures to de-escalate the situation,” Fomin mentioned. “On the part of the alliance, Russian initiatives were ignored. This creates prerequisites for incidents and conflicts, undermines the foundations of security.”

Grushko mentioned that the Russian facet informed NATO international locations the present scenario was turning into “intolerable” for Moscow.

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During Wednesday’s roughly assembly — which went longer than scheduled — Sherman mentioned that the US and its NATO allies as soon as once more made clear Russia’s demand Ukraine by no means be permitted to affix NATO was a non-starter. Sherman referred to as it “hard to understand” how Russia might really feel threatened by Ukraine when it has the biggest standard navy in Europe.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, arrive at the NATO-Russia Council at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, on January 12, 2022.

Wednesday’s session with the NATO-Russia Council was the second of three deliberate for this week. The US delegation led by Sherman met with the Russians on Monday, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will maintain a session with Russia on Thursday in Vienna.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg mentioned Wednesday that the assembly between NATO and Russia over the scenario in Ukraine was “not an easy discussion” and that “differences will not be easy to bridge,” however added that NATO allies and Russia “expressed the need to resume dialogue.”

“We had a very serious and direct exchange on the situation in and around Ukraine and the implications for European security,” he informed reporters. “There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues. Our differences will not be easy to bridge but it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia sat down around the same table and engaged on substantial topics.”

US finalizes sanctions choices

The Biden administration has sanctions targets and implementation measures “ready to go to be issued when those tanks cross the border,” a senior administration official mentioned.

“The final package will depend upon exactly what scenario we are facing,” the official mentioned. “But we are no longer at the point where we have just a memo that lays out options. We have concrete actions that we are ready to hit the return key on.”

As CNN beforehand reported, the White House during the last a number of weeks had been analyzing the impacts varied sanctions choices would haven’t simply on Russia but additionally on the European and American economies. Biden administration officers mentioned Wednesday the US and its allies decided that whereas extreme financial sanctions will seemingly have world financial ramifications, any spillover will be managed.

Tensions are high on Ukraine's border with Russia. Here's what you need to know

“The European financial system and its overall economy are in far better health than in 2014, particularly in the banking sector,” one of many officers mentioned.

The US can also be conscious of the chance that Putin tries to retaliate in opposition to any financial sanctions by weaponizing the export of Russian gasoline to Europe, which depends closely on Russian power provides. One of the officers mentioned that if Putin went down that path, it could “stiffen the resolve of Europe to find supplies elsewhere.”

“We are well aware of the potential impact of a reduction of Russian energy supply, both in the European market” and globally, the official mentioned, including {that a} vary of contingency choices for that state of affairs are being developed.

Sources accustomed to these contingencies mentioned they embrace gasoline switching, by which sure power sources are changed with others to meet calls for, in addition to the elevated import of liquid pure gasoline from LNG-producing international locations like Norway, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the UAE. European authorities are additionally taking a look at how a lot of a buffer their storages would offer within the occasion Russia shut off exports, the sources mentioned.

They emphasised that Russia’s economic system can also be extremely dependent upon gasoline export revenues.

Asked about efforts by some Republican members of Congress, significantly Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, to sanction the Russia-Germany gasoline pipeline Nord Stream 2 and basically kill the undertaking, the senior administration officers mentioned they consider doing so now would cut back the West’s leverage over Russia.

Even earlier than the newest Russian troop buildup on the Ukraine border, nonetheless, the Biden administration waived extra, congressionally mandated sanctions on Nord Stream 2, arguing that doing so would injury US relations with Germany, which sees the pipeline as a industrial undertaking.

Russian troops conduct live-fire workouts

Wednesday’s assembly comes as the 2 sides are caught in impasse, with fears mounting that Russia might launch an invasion into Ukraine.

Moscow has dismissed such claims. However, Russia has been amassing as many as 100,000 troops close to the Ukrainian frontier, and on the eve of the talks, the navy started live-fire drills in areas near the border.

The United States, NATO and their allies are pushing Russia to de-escalate the scenario. Moscow has demanded safety ensures from the US and NATO, together with a binding pledge that NATO will not develop additional east and won’t enable Ukraine to affix the navy alliance — one thing NATO isn’t keen to do.

“At this point, let me be very, very clear — no one is suggesting that we alter NATO policy on enlargement,” US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith informed CNN on Tuesday.

Rather than being framed as a bilateral NATO-Russia assembly, Wednesday’s gathering noticed every of NATO’s 30 member states and Russia represented equally, in a discussion board of 31. The assembly is the second of three key engagements between the West and Russia this week.

On Monday, representatives from the US and Russia sat down in Geneva for greater than seven hours of discussions.

The marathon talks, which the White House described as “frank and forthright,” didn’t produce a breakthrough. Another spherical of talks between Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) — of which the US is a member — are scheduled in Vienna on Thursday.

Ukraine mentioned Tuesday that it was assured that the US and different NATO international locations wouldn’t decide “on the fate” of the nation “behind our backs” through the conferences.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Michael Conte, Kylie Atwood, Ellie Kaufman, Luke McGee, Katharina Krebs, Nikki Carvajal, Alex Marquardt, Mick Krever and James Frater contributed reporting.

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