Ukraine conflict: diplomacy in full swing |

Status: 12.01.2022 03:55 a.m.

In order to prevent a war in Ukraine, international negotiations are in full swing this week. To this end, the NATO-Russia Council will also be revived. It is about nothing less than the security of Europe.

By Helga Schmidt, ARD-Studio Brussels

Diplomacy is in full swing. Almost every day of the week, international negotiations follow one another in rapid succession. Conversations and telephone calls, all with the aim of preventing war in Ukraine.

Helga Schmidt
ARD studio Brussels

To this end, the NATO-Russia Council is being revived this morning. It was put on hold, not a single meeting took place for more than two years, and there was radio silence between NATO and Moscow. One could not even agree on an agenda. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees it as a “positive signal”.

For some time, Russian diplomats and the military did not come to the Brussels headquarters of the Alliance. And from Stoltenberg’s point of view, it should also be about the three central points of European security. “We are concentrating on European security issues,” announced the Secretary General, specifying what is meant by this: transparency about military movements, risk reduction and weapons controls.

After all: we’re talking again

In the matter, however, not much has changed. After all, it is not only on the western side that there is talk of positive signals, the Kremlin has also praised the fact that people are talking to each other again.

However, Russian President Putin is still demanding guarantees that NATO will not accept any further Eastern European countries. The West rejects precisely such guarantees as unacceptable. One argument is incompatible with the peoples’ right to self-determination. In any case, one sees in the demands more of a diversionary maneuver that is supposed to conceal how massive the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine is.

“We will listen to the Russian reservations,” said Stoltenberg. “But real dialogue also means that we have to make our reservations about the Russian actions clear.”

EU defense ministers also advise

After the NATO-Russia Council, Stoltenberg is going to the next conference. The defense ministers of the European Union meet in Brittany, they come together in the fortress city of Brest, on the Atlantic. This is also about the Ukraine crisis – and NATO’s role in Europe’s security, says the host, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly.

“NATO remains the foundation of our collective defense,” said the Frenchwoman shortly before the meeting with EU colleagues. It is a “melting pot for the cooperation of our armed forces”.

Insist on having a say

Behind the beautiful words, however, there is also a firm interest that Europe should not be left out in the Ukraine talks. So far they have tended to be dominated by Washington and Moscow. In order not to give the impression that the great powers are negotiating over the heads of the Europeans, the American government is continuously informing the public via Twitter how intensively it is coordinating with its European allies.

President Biden alone has spoken to 16 European heads of government in the past few weeks, his foreign minister Blinken tweeted of more than two dozen conversations with European colleagues, and the entire American government wants to come together to more than 100 EU contacts, either directly or by telephone. What role European interests played in this – the EU defense ministers will probably also discuss this in Brest.

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