(DailyVantage.com) – Russia has been increasingly hostile lately, flaunting its military presence on the Ukraine border and issuing veiled threats to the US and NATO allies. Hoping to head off further aggressions, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg wants to bring Russia to the table next month for negotiations, but it’s not exactly going smoothly.
Stoltenberg has reached out to the Kremlin several times in the last few months to open dialogue through the NATO-Russia Council. While Russian authorities haven’t agreed to meet, they have said they would consider it. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow will engage in talks with Washington following the holiday season, a meeting that could take place as early as January 10.
Russian Military on Ukraine’s Border
One of the main issues at hand is Russia’s increasing military approach around Ukraine’s border. Moscow insists it’s not planning an invasion, but the sheer number of troops — 120,000 according to Ukrainian officials — seems excessive for simple military drills. In fact, satellite photos taken in December show the troops advancing into Crimea, which Russia annexed back in 2014. Another set of photographs shows the development of a new unit near Valuyki, Russia, which begs the question — why does the Kremlin need so many troops in an area if it’s not planning a military attack?
President Joe Biden has said he won’t tolerate an invasion and promised “severe consequences” in the event of Russian aggression. He was unclear whether he meant sanctions or other actions, but Biden confirmed the US would not deploy combat forces to aid Ukraine.
Moscow’s NATO Demands
The presence of troops isn’t the only issue. In mid-December, Moscow submitted a list of demands to NATO.
Among the list of these demands, Moscow insists NATO not expand, and especially not include Ukraine. Additionally, Russia wants NATO to end military drills near Russia and ban allowing both Russian and US aircraft and warships in areas where they could potentially strike each other. Finally, the Kremlin wants NATO to recall its military deployments in Eastern and Central Europe.
Putin’s Veiled Threats
Putin has been very vocal about tensions with the West. Should they not meet his NATO demands, Putin warned it would result in “diverse” results that “depend on what proposals our military experts submit to me.” However, despite these statements, it’s unlikely the West or NATO will cave.
With tensions rising, it’s no wonder alliances want Russia at the discussion table. What’s further concerning is Moscow’s demand that military officials attend any talks that do take place.
It’s unclear whether the Kremlin will meet with NATO, but Putin doesn’t seem to be backing down from his veiled threats. Only time will tell if they’re willing to come to the negotiating table and maintain diplomatic relations. If not, President Joe Biden must be willing to stand behind his words.
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