A diplomatic week aimed at de-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine appears doomed as fears of escalation mount.
Russia describes its security talks The United States and NATO this week called it “unsuccessful,” saying they remained divided on fundamental issues.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that so far, two rounds of discussions have been held in Geneva and brussels There are some “positive nuances”, but Moscow is looking for concrete results.
The talks, which moved to Vienna on Thursday for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), centred on Russia’s security demands for the West and its troop surge near Ukraine.
The military deployment has spooked Kiev and its allies, prompting calls for a withdrawal and leading the West to warn of severe punishment for Russia if it launches an offensive.
Moscow has said it has no plans to invade Ukraine, which is already fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east and saw the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russian forces in 2014.
Russian officials have stressed that they can deploy troops on their soil of their choice and accused NATO of destabilizing the region.
The Kremlin’s list of Western security demands includes legally binding commitments that NATO will never allow the former Soviet republic Ukraine to become its member, and that the group will withdraw its troops from the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe, which were in the aftermath of the Cold War. Join this alliance war.
The U.S. has called the demands “unworkable,” but NATO has expressed willingness to hold talks with Russia on arms control, missile deployment and confidence-building measures.
Poland says ‘war risk’ at 30-year high
At an OSCE meeting, Poland’s foreign minister warned Thursday that Europe is closer to war than it has been in 30 years because current tensions.
Addressing the 57-member OSCE envoy, Zbigniew Rau did not name Russia, but mentioned tensions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova — all of which have active or frozen conflicts with Russia.
“The risk of war in the OSCE region appears to be greater than ever in the past 30 years,” Law said in a speech outlining his country’s priorities as it assumes the organization’s rotating presidency this year.
“We have been facing the prospect of a military escalation in Eastern Europe for several weeks,” he said.
Poland, one of NATO’s most hawkish members, faces Russia’s revisionist ambitions in Eastern Europe.
“We should focus on peaceful resolution of the conflict in and around Ukraine,” Law said, calling for “full respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity within its internationally recognized borders”.
In response, Russia’s envoy to the OSCE said Moscow would take steps to defend its national security if necessary.
“If we do not hear a constructive response to our proposal within a reasonable time frame, and [Russia] Continuing, we will have to take the necessary steps to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security,” Alexander Lukashevich said.
The U.S. is also hopeful about the latest round of talks; Washington said it did not expect a breakthrough at Thursday’s meeting.