Russian diplomat predicts ‘difficult’ week of talks with US on Ukraine

A top Russian diplomat predicted “tough” talks with the United States this week after attending a working dinner with US officials in Geneva on Sunday as a string of meetings this week in three European cities with bilateral relations. Low on Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.

The US Deputy Secretary of State, Sergei Ryabkov, and other Russian officials met with the US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, the head of the US delegation, and their team for more than two hours at the luxury residence of the US ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament. Which overlooks Lake Geneva.

The dinner was a prelude to extensive discussions between the two teams at the US mission in Geneva starting Monday – culminating in a series of virtual and in-person meetings between US officials, their Western allies and Russian leaders in recent days and weeks. Tensions have risen over Russia’s pressure against Ukraine.

“We are immersed in the essence of the upcoming issues, but negotiations are going to be difficult,” Ryabkov told reporters while leaving the dinner meeting.

They can’t be easy. They will be businessmen. I guess we won’t waste our time tomorrowSergei Ryabkov

“They can’t be easy. They’ll be businessmen. I guess we won’t waste our time tomorrow.”

The resumption of talks is seen as a first step as ties have soured as Russia has deployed an estimated 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine. Concerns have risen about widespread Russian military incursions into the country.

The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn up a list of demands, such as seeking guarantees that the NATO military alliance will not seek to expand eastward into countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, which are former Soviet republics.

Ryabkov said, “The Russian side has come here with a clear position that includes many elements, which are understandable to my mind and so clearly formulated, including the high level, that it is not possible to deviate from our point of view.” ” ,

Asked if Russia was ready for a deal, he said: “The Americans should be ready to compromise.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that he did not expect any success in the organization for further cooperation in bilateral talks in Geneva or during talks in Brussels, a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. And security in Vienna this weekend in Europe.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he is not expecting a breakthrough (Chris J Ratcliffe/PA)

The United States and other Western allies have promised “serious costs” to Russia if it moves against Ukraine.

“The question really now is whether President Putin will pursue the path of diplomacy and dialogue or seek confrontation,” Blinken said, suggesting that a Russian move into Ukraine could be contrary to Moscow’s interests in the long run.

“If Russia launches a renewed offensive against Ukraine, I think it is a very reasonable possibility that NATO will strengthen its position along its eastern side, the countries bordering Russia,” he told ABC.

Ryabkov said on Sunday that Russia was coming into the talks to clearly understand the US position, and cited signs from Washington that some Russian proposals could be discussed.

What we see is too much postureThomas Greminger

They put forward three Russian demands: no further expansion of NATO, no missiles on Russia’s borders, and that NATO should no longer have military exercises, intelligence operations, or infrastructure outside its 1997 borders.

US officials on Saturday expressed openness to begin discussions on reducing potential future deployments of offensive missiles in Ukraine and imposing sanctions on US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe – if Russia is willing to withdraw from Ukraine.

But he warned of harsh economic sanctions in case of Russian interference, including direct sanctions on Russian entities, sanctions on products exported from the US to Russia, and potentially foreign products subject to US jurisdiction.

Ambassador Thomas Greminger, director of the Swiss government-backed Geneva Center for Security Policy, which hosted Ryabkov for the Geneva Conference in October, said the Geneva talks “are an opportunity to address mutual concerns, meet mutual expectations. With regard to Ukraine’s bid, for example, it is too early to expect any clarity.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of posturing,” said Greminger, who is also the former head of OSCE. “I think in the end, both Putin and (US President Joe) Biden have no interest in pushing for an escalation.”