NATO will hold an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers on Friday to discuss strengthening the Russian military on the border with Ukraine, the alliance said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a video call, ministers will discuss Russia and “broader European security issues,” the statement said. The meeting will take place days before a NATO-Russia Council, which will be attended by Russian officials, on January 12. an announced meeting by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last month.
Tensions between Moscow and the West have soared in recent months and US officials have warned that Moscow could plan a full-scale invasion of its neighbor after amassing more than 100,000 troops at the border.
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 Russia-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
The two NATO meetings are linked, an alliance official said. The NATO Foreign Ministers’ teleconference on Friday “is part of the ongoing 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 discuss the next round of engagements with Russia, including during the NATO-Russia Council on January 12. “
Moscow, concerned about what it says is Western rearmament of Ukraine, has said it wants legally binding NATO guarantees on its weapons deployment and eastward expansion.
A series of other meetings are planned between the Western powers and Russia in an attempt to defuse the tensions.
Moscow will hold talks with Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday in the so-called Norman format, Russian state-run Interfax news agency reported on Monday. U.S. and Russian officials will also hold security talks in Geneva on Monday.
January 12 is the NATO-Russia Council ahead of a broader meeting on January 13 involving the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States and its NATO allies as well as Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and other former Soviet states.