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Nato stands prepared for battle in Europe, says alliance chief

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Nato has warned Moscow to desert its belligerent international coverage and co-operate with the west or face a navy alliance steeled for battle, on the eve of every week of intense diplomacy aimed toward averting a Russian assault on Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary-general, stated the US-led defence pact was ready for “a brand new armed battle in Europe” ought to negotiations fail, as western officers readied for potential discussions with Moscow on decreasing the scale of navy workouts, arms management and a pledge to not deploy US missiles in Ukraine.

“I’m conscious of Russia’s historical past. For hundreds of years they’ve skilled battle with neighbours,” he informed the Monetary Occasions. “[But] Russia has an alternate: to co-operate, to work with Nato.”

Russia has deployed about 100,000 troops at places near its border with Ukraine in latest months, sparking fears that it plans a recent assault on a rustic it invaded in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea.

President Vladimir Putin has denied any plan to invade. However he has warned of potential navy motion if the US and Nato ignore Moscow’s calls for for brand spanking new defence agreements that may severely scale back US and Nato capabilities in Europe. Russia claims these capabilities are a menace to its borders.

“It’s potential to seek out collectively a path, a political method ahead, and in addition to handle Russia’s considerations . . . However there continues to be a threat of battle,” Stoltenberg stated in an interview. “Nato’s deterrence is credible and robust . . . We’ve got to hope and work arduous for the most effective, however be ready for the worst.”

His warning comes forward of formal talks between Russian and US officers in Geneva on Monday, adopted by a gathering of the 30-member Nato alliance and a Russian delegation on Wednesday. A 3rd assembly hosted by the broader Group for Safety and Co-operation in Europe is about for Thursday.

Russia’s calls for embrace a ban on Ukraine and different nations becoming a member of Nato and a Kremlin veto on alliance actions in member states that joined after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stoltenberg stated each of these have been unacceptable as a result of they breached Nato’s “core rules” of providing membership to all and defending allies equally.

As an alternative, Stoltenberg stated the US and Nato have been ready to talk with Russia about potential risk-reduction measures “like arms management, on efforts to attempt to have extra transparency on navy exercise, workouts, and in addition on strains of communications”.

Ruling out US missile deployments in Ukraine and discussing broader guidelines on missile programs in Europe have been two areas the place Washington noticed potential scope for settlement, a senior Biden administration official stated forward of the talks, including that it could be depending on whether or not “Russia is keen to make a reciprocal dedication”.

The US was additionally “keen to discover the potential of reciprocal restrictions on the scale and scope of [military] workouts, together with each strategic bombers shut to one another’s territory, and ground-based workouts as properly”, the official stated, including that “no agency commitments” could be made in Geneva.

Washington has firmly denied media reviews that it might provide to drag again some troops stationed in japanese Europe in change for Russia cutting down its deployment on the Ukrainian border. As an alternative, officers stated the US and different Nato allies have been prepared to extend that presence if Putin took any navy motion.

The US, EU and different western companions have warned that they may impose monetary sanctions on Russia within the occasion of navy escalation. Officers stated yesterday that the US was able to “instantly impose extreme and overwhelming prices on Russia’s financial system”.

The US can also be getting ready potential commerce curbs on Russia, and has been discussing the potential of a variety of export controls with allies and companions in Europe and Asia, in line with individuals conversant in White Home pondering.

Whereas the Kremlin has voiced hope for fast options from the talks, Stoltenberg stated he anticipated it could take “a collection of conferences” to seek out any mutually acceptable outcomes.

“We’re able to try for a greater relationship,” stated the previous Norwegian prime minister. “We’ve got confirmed earlier than that we’re capable of make compromises and discover options with Russia.”

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