The United States and Russia clashed with Ukraine and other security concerns on Monday, with no sign of progress on either side in long-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 side called the meeting a complete failure, but offered no prospect of easing the increasingly worrisome standoff over Russia’s military build-up on its border with Ukraine as it did. West sees it 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 demands as no starter.
As both sides are entrenched and the future of Ukraine hangs in the balance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said no progress has been made on central demand for NATO expansion, although he insisted: we have no intention of invading Ukraine.
US officials have openly questioned that comment.
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 straightforward discussion, “but was unwilling, or unable, to indicate progress.
It was not what you would call a negotiation, ”she told reporters.
“We’re not at a point where we’re ready to drop texts and start going back and forth.
We were, however, firm in pushing back on security proposals that are simply not doomed to failure for the United States, Sherman said, adding that we will not allow anyone to close NATO’s open door policy. which extends to countries seeking to join the alliance.
She said Washington would not forgo 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 members of the alliance .
Moscow has sought to wrest a series of concessions from the United States and its Western allies, and has massed around 1,000,000 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, many times we cannot go back. We cannot go back. There is no more space for us to do so.
Ryabkov denounced Russian concerns and demands made last month on topics such as NATO enlargement and the West’s wish not to deploy offensive weapons near Russian borders.
The US side 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 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 now NATO deploys capabilities that are developing very quickly in the United States, and will eventually be introduced somewhere in Europe, there would need to be a military response from Russia, that is, 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.
After Ryabkov said Russia had no plans to invade Ukraine, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield was publicly skeptical.
I wish to believe it, I wish it was true that they have no plan, but everything we have seen so far indicates that they are making moves in that direction, she told the journalists at UN headquarters in New York.
Echoing 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. “
De-escalation, she said, would include returning Russian troops currently deployed to Ukraine’s borders to their barracks.
We made it clear that if Russia invaded Ukraine further, there would be significant costs and consequences far beyond what they faced in 2014, she said. Russia has a difficult choice to make.
However, neither Sherman nor State Department spokesman Ned Price would say whether the United States would go ahead with the sanctions if Russia chose not to invade but also refused to withdraw its troops from the United States. frontier.
Monday’s meeting was part of the Strategic Security Dialogue talks on arms control and other broad 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.
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