No progress seen after Russian-US talks on tensions in Ukraine – News-Herald



GENEVA – The United States and Russia clashed on Monday over Ukraine and other security concerns without any sign of progress on either side in much-awaited strategic talks.

Washington’s and Moscow’s low expectations for the high-stakes session in Geneva appeared to have been met, as senior diplomats from both countries emerged without showing any sign of success.

Neither called the meeting a complete failure, but they also failed to alleviate the increasingly worrying deadlock over Russia’s military build-up on its border with Ukraine which the West sees as a fundamental threat to European security. There was also no indication of movement on other, perhaps less explosive, issues that have upset US-Russian relations.

Moscow insists on guarantees to stop NATO’s eastward expansion and even roll back military alliance deployments in Eastern Europe, while Washington firmly rejects the demands as blind.

As both sides are cut off from their positions and Ukraine’s future hangs in the balance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says “no progress” has been made on central demand NATO enlargement, although he insisted: “We have no intention of invading Ukraine.”

Ryabkov spoke following talks with his US counterpart, Wendy Sherman, as part of a wave of diplomatic activity in Europe this week aimed at defusing tensions.

Sherman called the talks a “frank and direct discussion.”

“It was not what you would call a negotiation,” she told reporters. “We’re not at the point where we’re ready to drop texts and start going back and forth.”

“We have been firm, however, in pushing back on security proposals which are simply not doomed to failure for the United States,” Sherman said, adding that “we will not allow anyone” to shut down “politics. of the open door “of NATO which extends to countries seeking to join. the Alliance.

She said Washington “will not give up bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States. And we will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, Europe without Europe, or NATO without NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described NATO’s expansion in Ukraine and other former Soviet states as a “red line” for Moscow, demanding binding guarantees from the West that they would not become alliance members.

Moscow has sought to wrest a series of concessions from the United States and its Western allies, and has rallied around 100,000 troops near Ukraine in moves that have raised concerns about possible military intervention there.

“The situation is now so dangerous and therefore – I would say – precarious that we cannot afford further delays in resolving this very fundamental issue,” Ryabkov said at a separate press conference at the Russian mission. “As President Putin has said repeatedly, ‘we cannot go back. We cannot go back. There is no more space for us to do this.

Ryabkov voiced Russian concerns and demands made last month on topics such as NATO expansion and the West’s wish not to deploy offensive weapons near Russian borders.

“The US side has treated the Russian proposals seriously and studied them in depth,” he said, adding that he called Moscow’s request a legally binding guarantee that NATO would not move to the East as “an absolute imperative for us”.

Ryabkov stressed that it would be difficult to work on other issues if the United States obstructed key Russian demands.

“If NATO now deploys capabilities that are developing very rapidly in the United States, and will eventually be introduced somewhere in Europe, that would require a military response from Russia, that is to say a decision to counter this threat by means at our discretion, ”Ryabkov said, speaking in English. “It will inevitably and inevitably harm the security of the United States and its European allies.”

He did not develop.

Echoing similar comments from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sherman said progress could only happen if Russia “stays at the table and takes concrete steps to defuse tensions.”

“We made it clear that if Russia invaded Ukraine further, there would be significant costs and consequences far beyond what it had to face in 2014,” she said. “Russia has a difficult choice to make.”

The meeting was part of “Strategic Security Dialogue” talks on arms control and other general issues launched by Putin and US President Joe Biden at a summit in June in the Swiss city. Talks between Russia and NATO are scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels, followed by a meeting in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday.

The United States downplayed hopes for meaningful progress and said some Russian demands – such as a possible halt to NATO expansion – run counter to countries’ sovereign rights to put in place their own peace agreements. security and are non-negotiable.

But US officials have expressed openness to other ideas, such as reducing possible future deployments of offensive missiles in Ukraine and limiting US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe – if Russia is willing. to reverse Ukraine.

Blinken said on Sunday he did not expect any breakthroughs, with a more likely positive outcome being an agreement to defuse near-term tensions and resume talks at an appropriate time in the future. But the United States will have to witness a de-escalation for there to be real progress.

“It is very difficult to see this happening when there is a continuous escalation, when Russia has a gun to Ukraine’s head with 100,000 troops near its borders, the possibility of doubling that very short. term, “Blinken told ABC’s” This Week. “

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also sought to play down expectations earlier on Monday.

“I don’t think we can expect these meetings to solve all the problems,” he told reporters in Brussels after talks with Olga Stefanishyna, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro Integration -Atlantic. “What we hope is that we can agree on a way forward, that we can agree on a series of meetings, that we can agree on a process.”

During a visit to Rome, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said dialogue was the only way out of the crisis.

“At the same time, it is equally clear that a further violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by Russia would have serious consequences,” she told reporters.

Russia has said it wants the issue resolved this month, but NATO fears Putin is looking for a pretext, such as failed negotiations, to launch an invasion.

The United States, which has stressed that the Ukrainian government and those of other European countries must participate in the discussions, “will not discuss European security without our European allies and partners,” the spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday. ‘State, Ned Price.

Thomas Greminger, director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, said the talks didn’t reveal much new, but were a start.

“But I think what has happened now, these issues are on everyone’s radar and they are on the discussion and hopefully soon also on the negotiating table,” he said. in an interview. “And that’s important. And in that sense, for me, it’s progress. ___

Lee reported from Washington. Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Lorne Cook in Brussels and Frank Jordans in Berlin have contributed.

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