US defense minister plans visit to Ukraine as US-Russia talks fail to yield results
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will be making a stop in Ukraine during a trip to Europe next week, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby announced on Oct. 12.
“The secretary and his team will be preparing for a trip to Europe next week. Stops will include Georgia, Ukraine and Romania, and it will conclude this important visit with allies and partners in Brussels for the NATO defense ministerial,” Kirby said.
The news came as the U.S. diplomatic mission to Russia, headed by the U.S. undersecretary Victoria Nuland, concluded without meaningful results.
“I cannot say that we have achieved great progress,” said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, “There is a risk of a further sharpening of tensions.”
The main issue was the restriction both countries set on the number of diplomats they could post at their embassies.
“We expect parity on staffing numbers, and we expect visa reciprocity. There must be fairness, there must be flexibility on the Russian side if we are to achieve an equitable agreement, and that’s precisely what we are after,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The intention of the meeting was to rebuild relations and to reestablish communication between Moscow and Washington, which have deteriorated over the past decade.
Although the two sides did not discuss Russia’s war in Donbas during the meeting, the Russian ministry released a statement condemning “anti-Russian actions,” potentially referring to the $60 million aid package promised by U.S. President Joe Biden while meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in September.