After four hours of discussions on Wednesday, Russia and NATO officials acknowledged they were still far from a deal that the US and its allies believed would prevent a new Russian invasion of Ukraine and reduce tensions between Moscow and the West.

Allies of NATO have called on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, where close to 100,000 Russian troops have amassed near the borders to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Officials claimed Russian representatives did not promise to draw back troops or reject the demand.

Russia-NATO meeting ends without clear result

Russia opposes any expansion of NATO to include Ukraine or Georgia and to withdraw both former Soviet republics and all allied troops from NATO members that border Russia. On Wednesday, NATO allies reaffirmed their opposition to such commitments. Some of Russia's demands, according to Wendy R. Sherman the deputy secretary of state who led the US delegation to the talks, are "simply non-starters."

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and separatists backed by Russia seized control of an eastern swath of the country, where fighting continues. Officials from Russia assert there are no plans to escalate the conflict in Ukraine while also threatening grave repercussions, including military action, if the Kremlin's demands are not satisfied, according to The New York Times.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants NATO soldiers and military equipment out of countries bordering Russia, including Ukraine and NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Putin also requested that the 30-nation military alliance refrain from adding any new members.

After the meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that some of Putin's security requests "are just non-starters."

An estimated 100,000 combat-ready Russian troops, tanks, and heavy military equipment are gathered along Ukraine's eastern border, prompting the request for the summit. The buildup has raised fears in Kyiv and elsewhere in the West that Moscow is planning an invasion.

Russia denies having new intentions to attack its neighbor; and the West, in turn, accuses Russia of endangering its security by stationing military people and equipment in Central and Eastern Europe. Sherman voiced confidence in the aftermath of the Brussels summit, saying that Moscow did not rule out further conversations despite the fact that "escalation does not provide ideal conditions for diplomacy, to say the least."

The meeting was chaired by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who said NATO states and Russian envoys "stressed the need to restart conversation and to develop a timetable of future talks." NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the alliance is eager to explore measures to avert disastrous military events or mishaps involving Russia and its Western partners, as well as decreasing space and cyber threats, limiting missile installations, and other arms control initiatives, as per Chron.

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US Senate Democrats unveil Russia sanctions bill

If Russia participates in hostilities against Ukraine, US Senate Democrats proposed a measure on Wednesday that would slap broad penalties on senior Russian government and military leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, as well as important banking institutions.

The White House-backed legislation includes provisions to help strengthen Ukraine's security and encourages the US to "consider all available and appropriate measures" to ensure that the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is a "tool of the Russian Federation's malign influence," does not become operational.

According to a Menendez spokesperson, the bill has received support from more than two dozen Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Other proposals, such as one backed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, will "neither deter future Russian aggression or safeguard Ukraine," according to a representative for the National Security Council.

Last month, Cruz and Schumer reached an agreement in which the Texas senator relinquished his hold on a number of President Joe Biden's ambassadorial appointments. Cruz's plan will be voted on this week, but it will need 60 votes to succeed, which is a tall order in the Senate's equally divided ranks.

Because the pipeline would circumvent Ukraine, several Democrats have favored sanctions against it., depriving it of transit revenues and jeopardizing the country's fight against Russia, The Star reported.

Related Article: US Urges To Reach a Deal With Russia, Tells Moscow That De-escalation is Needed as Ukraine Crisis Deepens

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