WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – “The risk for a new armed conflict in Europe is real.” That blunt assessment from the NATO secretary-general was made after high-stakes talks in Brussels aimed at preventing a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It comes as tensions between Moscow and the west are at their highest level since the Cold War, and even some of the language is eerily reminiscent.
Jens Stoltenberg said the Kremlin is now re-introducing the idea of “spheres of influence.” But he also described Monday’s discussion as “substantial.”
The U.S. said it remains ready to continue the conversation but warns that Russia has a stark choice to make.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko described the talks as open and direct but said there is no common positive agenda between Moscow and NATO.
The NATO secretary-general said the ball is now in the Kremlin’s court. Grushko reacted to that Monday, saying, “No. The ball is in NATO’s court.”