Russia says NATO talks ‘unsuccessful’ while Poland warns of war

Russia this week has described its security talks with the United States and NATO as “unsuccessful” and said disagreements on fundamental issues remain.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that the two previous rounds of talks in Geneva and Brussels had produced some “positive nuances” but that Moscow was waiting for concrete results.

The talks, which were relocated to Vienna on Thursday for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), focus on Russia’s security demands on the West and the troop deployment near Ukraine.

The military operations have frightened Kiev and its allies, prompted calls for a military withdrawal and prompted Western warnings of severe penalties for Russia should it launch 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 forces on their territory as they wish, blaming NATO for destabilizing the region.

The Kremlin’s list of security demands on the West includes legally binding pledges that NATO will never allow the former Soviet republic of Ukraine to join and that the organization will withdraw troops from former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe that joined the alliance after the cold are war.

The US describes the requests as “non-starters”, but together with NATO declare that they are ready to hold talks with Russia on arms control, missile deployments and confidence-building measures.

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Poland says “risk of war” at 30-year high

At the OSCE meeting on Thursday, Poland’s foreign minister warned that current tensions brought Europe closer to war than it had in 30 years.

Addressing envoys from the 57 OSCE members, Zbigniew Rau did not name Russia but mentioned tensions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova – all countries with active or frozen conflicts involving Russia.

“It appears that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than at any time in the last 30 years,” Rau said in a speech outlining his country’s priorities as it holds the organization’s rotating chairmanship this year .

“For several weeks we have faced the prospect of a major military escalation in Eastern Europe,” he said.

Poland is among the most restrictive NATO members grappling with Russia’s revisionist ambitions in Eastern Europe.

“We should focus on a peaceful solution to the conflict in and around Ukraine,” Rau 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 proposals within a reasonable time frame and aggressive behavior towards [Russia] continues, we must take the necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to our national security,” said Alexander Lukashevich.

The US also has little hope for the latest round of talks; Washington has said it does not expect a breakthrough at Thursday’s meeting.

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