NATO calls extraordinary meeting to discuss Russia

Alliance foreign ministers to discuss troop build-up on Ukraine frontier.

NATO will hold an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers on Friday to talk about the Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, the alliance said in a statement Tuesday.

On a video call, the ministers will discuss Russia and “broader European security issues,” the statement said. The meeting will take place a few days before a NATO-Russia Council, in which Russian officials will take part, on January 12, a meeting announced by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last month.

Tensions between Moscow and the West have soared in recent months and U.S officials have warned that Moscow could be planning a full-scale invasion of its neighbor after amassing more than 100,000 troops at the frontier.

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell is currently in Ukraine for a two-day visit that includes a trip to the eastern front, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian government forces.

The two NATO meetings are linked, said an alliance official. Friday’s NATO foreign ministers teleconference “is part of continuing coordination among NATO allies on security in Europe resulting from Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine. The meeting is also an opportunity to address the upcoming sequence of engagements with Russia, including in the NATO-Russia Council on 12 January.”

Moscow, concerned by what it says is the West’s re-arming of Ukraine, has said it wants legally-binding guarantees from NATO over its weapons deployment and eastern expansion.

There are a string of other meetings planned between Western powers and Russia to try to defuse tensions.

Moscow will hold talks with Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday under the so-called Normandy format, Russian state-run news agency Interfax reported Monday. U.S. and Russian officials will also hold security talks on Monday in Geneva.

January 12 is the NATO-Russia Council before a broader meeting on January 13 involving the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the U.S and its NATO allies as well as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and other former Soviet states.

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