NATO says 'no' to Putin's demand for Ukraine as new buffer

NATO will not respond to Russian President Putin's demand to declare in advance that Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO, and that NATO should become less active in Central and Eastern Europe.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg finds these demands "unacceptable", he said after a meeting with thirty NATO foreign ministers.

On Monday, the United States will start bilateral talks with Russia, and on Wednesday the Russians will meet with NATO. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken still hopes that tensions with Russia can be resolved through diplomatic channels. Stoltenberg says NATO must prepare for negotiations with Russia to fail. 

Putin asks for guarantees that Ukraine can never become a NATO member. Also elsewhere near the Russian border, Putin no longer wants the hot NATO breath in his neck. He therefore advocates abolishing military exercises in Central and Eastern Europe. Both proposals are rejected by NATO.

"Putin knows very well that his demands are totally unacceptable," former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told NOS. "It's as if he wants to go back to the situation before the fall of the Berlin Wall," says De Hoop Scheffer. 

The Russian leader was able to make those demands after making the west nervous in recent weeks. Russian troops gather on the border of Ukraine. As a result, fears of an invasion in the Russian-minded eastern Ukraine became great.