Russia rules out any concession at Ukraine, security talks with US

Geneva (AFP) – Russia ruled out Sunday any concession at talks with the United States on soaring tensions over Ukraine as Moscow seeks a wide-ranging new security arrangement with the West but faces strong pressure to pull back troops.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies ahead of his talks in Geneva the Kremlin was also “disappointed” with signals coming from both Washington and Brussels, where NATO and the European Union are based.

The high-level discussions start a week of diplomacy in which Russia will meet with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with the US trying to assure European allies they will not be sidelined.

Russia since late last year has amassed tens of thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border and demanded guarantees that NATO will not expand further eastward.

The Kremlin is insisting NATO must never grant membership to ex-Soviet Ukraine, which is pushing to join.

The United States, to be represented by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, agreed to talks even though it made plain that many of Moscow’s proposals are non-starters.

Originally scheduled to start on Monday, Sherman is now due to have a working dinner with Ryabkov on Sunday evening, said a State Department spokesperson.

Russia insists it was deceived after the Cold War and understood that NATO would not expand Alexander NEMENOV AFP/File

“We will not agree to any concession. That is completely excluded,” Ryabkov said. “We are disappointed with the signals coming in the last few days from Washington but also from Brussels.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, dismissing Moscow’s demands as “gaslighting”, has insisted that talks will yield no progress so long as Russia has a “gun to Ukraine’s head”.

“We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression. But a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable if Russia chooses it,” Blinken said Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met his US counterpart Joe Biden in Geneva in June and agreed on regular “stability” talks between Sherman and Ryabkov, who will again lead the Russian delegation.

‘Massive’ retaliation

In two phone calls to Putin, Biden has warned of severe consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.

Measures under consideration include sanctions on Putin’s inner circle, cancelling Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany or, in the most drastic scenario, severing Russia’s links to the world’s banking system.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead high-stakes talks on Ukraine in Geneva Handout Permanent Mission of Russia/AFP/File

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned that Washington would also send more troops to eastern NATO members such as Poland and the Baltics if Russia invaded.

Europeans have showed solidarity, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visiting the frontline in Ukraine, although some nations are expected to hesitate at the strongest measures.

“Whatever the solution, Europe has to be involved,” EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

Russia insists it was deceived after the Cold War and understood that NATO would not expand.

Instead, the US-led alliance accepted most of the former Warsaw Pact nations and the three Baltic nations that were under Soviet rule.

Russia has put intense pressure on neighbouring Ukraine since 2014 after a revolution overthrew a government that had sided with the Kremlin against moving closer to Europe.

Russia seized the Crimean peninsula and backs an insurgency in eastern Ukraine in which more than 13,000 people have died.

At a time when Russia is also intervening to shore up allies facing popular uprisings in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Moscow has insisted it wants concrete progress in talks with Washington.

Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov warned after the call with Biden that the United States would make a “colossal mistake” if it went ahead with sanctions.

Ukrainians hold placards in solidarity with demonstrators in Kazakhstan outside the country’s embassy in Kyiv Sergei SUPINSKY AFP

‘Gigantic bluff’?

“It is very likely that we will encounter the reticence of our US and NATO colleagues to really perceive what we need,” Ryabkov said Sunday.

In spite “of the threats that are constantly formulated against us… we wil make no concession,” he said, adding it would “amount to acting against the interests of our seccurity.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, meeting foreign ministers of the alliance on Friday, said there remained real risks of a Russian invasion.

But John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, described the Russian troop build-up as a “gigantic bluff” by Putin to seek a negotiated agreement.

“They are trying to see if the Biden administration or Europe will blink,” said Herbst, now at the Atlantic Council think tank.

“As long as the Biden administration remains at least as strong as it is now,” he said, “it probably is enough to keep Putin from striking large into Ukraine, but I don’t rule out something smaller.”

© 2022 AFP

3 comments

  1. “Russia insists it was deceived after the Cold War and understood that NATO would not expand.

    Instead, the US-led alliance accepted most of the former Warsaw Pact nations and the three Baltic nations that were under Soviet rule.”

    Still playing the same worn out record. In 20 years not one NATO country has even remotely threatened Russia or attacked it, or annexed parts of it. On the other hand, the scum have annexed parts of Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. There is only one country in Europe threatening other countries, and that is the terrorist state called Muscovy.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. “The United States, to be represented by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, agreed to talks even though it made plain that many of Moscow’s proposals are non-starters.”
    “…of the threats that are constantly formulated against us… we wil make no concession…”

    What’s there to talk about? Actions speak louder than words. In the meantime, Ukraine could have been made into the proverbial porcupine. I’m afraid that in the end, Bidenov will once again throw Ukraine underneath the bus. Certainly, the frogs and krauts and spaghettis and Adolf Hitler land and the Orbanovs will gladly help him with this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Moskali continue to deceive themselves. Screw them. I assume they can read now as they were able to read back in 1949. Here is the part of the NATO charter they are whining about…moving eastward…

      Article 10
      The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.

      Liked by 1 person

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