Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says NATO will not send combat troops to Ukraine, but no compromise on bloc's expansion
NATO is finalizing its own response to Moscow's proposal about European security, and will send it "later this week" in parallel with Washington, the alliance's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said in an interview on Tuesday.
The alliance is willing "to sit down and discuss arms control, disarmament, transparency on military activities, risk reduction mechanisms and other issues which are relevant for European security," Stoltenberg told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"We are also willing to sit down and listen to Russian concerns. But we are not ready to compromise on core principles, including the right for every nation in Europe to choose its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be part of," he added.
Stoltenberg also reportedly said NATO will not send "combat" troops to Ukraine. A number of NATO members already have troops in the country bordering Russia, however, engaged in "training" Ukrainian government forces in how to use weapons systems supplied by the alliance.
The Russian proposal, sent over to the US and its allies last month, includes legally binding guarantees that NATO will not expand to any more former Soviet republics - including Ukraine and Georgia, which the alliance has eyed since 2008 - or deploy offensive weapons along the Russian border, among other things.
The proposals are "not a menu from which one can pick and choose this or that. They are complementary and must be considered as a whole," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists at the time.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the demand for NATO to end expansion was "unconditional" and that the documents were made public so it would "not be swept under the rug." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called that particular issue "a matter of life and death" for Russia.
While the US has not sent its response yet, the State Department said on Monday that any moves by Washington would not be "concessions," and that it would reject "security proposals we have heard from Moscow that are simply non-starters," such as a ban on NATO expansion.