World

Euro Leaders Want Talks To De-Escalate Tensions With Russia

| by Nik Bonopartis

Spooked by a resurgent Russia's annexation of Crimea and aggressive actions on the world stage, European leaders say they're looking at a potential arms control deal to avoid escalating tensions.

The news comes out of Germany, where a senior German official expressed worries about relations with Russia to Die Welt, a German newspaper.

"Europe's security is in danger," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Nov. 25, according to Reuters. "As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less."

It's not just German officials who are worried -- leaders in 15 other countries, including France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium, Austria and the Czech Republic have signaled support for Steinmeier's call for new negotiations with Russia.

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The group, known as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), plans to convene for a meeting in December to iron out details about how to approach Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

"Confronted with the increasingly unstable security situation in Europe, we see an urgent need to re-establish strategic stability, restraint, predictability and verifiable transparency and to reduce military risks," the OSCE members wrote in a statement.

Critics say they're worried about a "softening" stance toward Russia, which is also involved in an ongoing conflict in Ukraine and has been fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war. The latter has put Russia at odds with the U.S., which is also militarily involved in Syria, but with the aim of deposing Assad.

Russia's relationship with the west could change with the rise of President-electDonald Trump, and the possible election of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, The Guardian reported. Trump and Putin have publicly praised each other, and the two leaders spoke after Trump's Nov. 8 victory at the polls.

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Regardless of what happens, Steinmeier said the only way to ease tensions and come to an understanding is by communicating with Russia.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian / Photo credit: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office via ​Wikimedia Commons

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