NATO, Russia in a standoff after talks in Brussels

Brussels: The United States and NATO rejected key Russian security demands for easing tensions over Ukraine but left open Wednesday the possibility of future talks with Moscow on arms control, missile deployments, and ways to prevent military incidents between Russia and the West.

The decisions came at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, the first of its kind in over two years. That Russia’s delegation did not walk out of the talks and remained open to the prospect of future discussions after having its main positions rebuffed were seen as positive notes in a week of high-level meetings aimed at staving off a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Michael Carpenter said after talks with Russia in Vienna that the West should prepare for a possible escalation in tensions with Moscow. “The drumbeat of war is sounding loud, and the rhetoric has gotten rather shrill,” he told reporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants NATO to withdraw its troops and military equipment from countries that border Russia, which include Ukraine but also NATO allies like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Putin also asked for the 30-nation military alliance to agree not to admit any more members.

Speaking after the meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman reaffirmed that some of Putin’s security demands “are simply non-starters.”

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