US, Russia Still A Long Way From Agreement On Ukraine Border Crisis: Live Updates

Russian officials said they told US diplomats that Russia had no plans to invade Ukraine in a series of talks that lasted nearly eight hours.CreditCredit…Denis Balibouse / Reuters

GENEVA – As Russian troops mass along Ukraine’s borders, US and Russian diplomats made it clear after an intense round of negotiations on Monday that while the two sides would continue to talk to each other, they remain far from agree to address each other’s safety concerns.

Russian officials said they told their American counterparts they had no plans to invade Ukraine, in a series of talks that lasted nearly eight hours. “There is no reason to fear some sort of escalation scenario,” Sergei A. Ryabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister, told reporters after the meeting.

“The talks were difficult, long, very professional, deep, concrete, without attempts to hide some sharp edges,” Ryabkov said. “We felt that the American side took the Russian proposals very seriously and studied them in depth.”

Wendy Sherman, the chief US diplomat, said the United States “rejects security proposals that are simply not relevant to the United States,” including Russia’s demands that Ukraine not. not be admitted into NATO and that the alliance end its security cooperation. with Ukraine.

“We will not allow anyone to slam NATO’s open door policy, which has always been at the heart of the NATO alliance,” Ms. Sherman said on a conference call with reporters. “We 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.

Both sides have reduced any expectation of a diplomatic breakthrough.

“Today was a discussion, a better understanding of each other and each other’s priorities,” Ms. Sherman said. “It was not what we would call a negotiation.”

The tone of the talks “makes it more optimistic,” Ryabkov said, “but the main issues are still unresolved, and we don’t see on the American side an understanding of the need for a decision in a way that satisfies us. .

Ms. Sherman said the two sides discussed the possibility of reviving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which the United States abandoned in 2019, after years of accusing Russia of violating its terms.

The US side has raised ideas about the location of the US and Russian intermediate-range missiles, she said, and the US has made it clear that it is open to discussing “ways to set mutual limits. on the size and scope of military exercises and to improve transparency on these exercises.

The talks – the first in a series of talks to be held across Europe this week – revolved around demands for “security guarantees” from Western powers that the Kremlin made in a remarkable diplomatic offensive in the United States. end of last year.

In December, Russia released a proposal for two agreements with the United States and NATO that would roll back Western military activity in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, essentially restoring a Russian sphere of influence in it. which was once part of the Soviet Union. Union.

As Ms. Sherman noted, many of the proposals fall short of Western officials, who insist that Cold War-style regions of influence are a relic of the past and that countries should be able to to choose their own alliances.

“We didn’t go out there and look at the treaty they put on the table,” Ms. Sherman said.

Russia insists its demands go far beyond arms control and involve a complete reshuffle of the security map in Europe, which the Kremlin claims the West imposed on a weak Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If Russia doesn’t get what it wants, President Vladimir V. Putin said last month, the Kremlin is ready to resort to military means to achieve its goals.

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