The discussion was complicated, it couldn’t be easy, said Russian Deputy Minister Sergei Riabkov, quoted by the Interfax agency, after a two-hour working dinner in Geneva with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Mr Riabkov called the discussion
serious. A day of negotiations should follow Monday.
I think tomorrow we won’t waste our time, added the Russian.
The United States and Russia have taken a firm position ahead of these negotiations. Washington has warned of a risk of
confrontation and Moscow has ruled out any concessions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to avoid further news
Ukraine aggression and to choose the diplomatic route, while the Kremlin, under pressure to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border, asks the West for guarantees on security in Europe, including that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will not extend further east.
During the working dinner, Wendy Sherman
underscored the United States’ support for international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the freedom of sovereign countries to choose their own alliances, according to a statement from the US State Department.
Intense diplomatic ballet
A few hours before this dinner, Mr. Riabkov said to himself
disappointed with the signals coming in recent days from Washington, but also from Brussels, where the European Union (EU) and the NATO, according to Russian agencies.
This meeting launches an intense diplomatic week. In addition to the US-Russian talks in Switzerland on Monday, a meetingNATO-Russia is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels, then a meeting Thursday in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to include Europeans, who fear being marginalized.
There is a way of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences, had estimated Sunday Antony Blinken on the American channel CNN.
The other path is one of confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression against Ukraine. We’re about to see which way the president [russe, Vladimir] Putin is ready to borrow.
The West and Kiev accuse the Russians of having massed nearly 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border for a potential invasion, and have threatened Vladimir Putin with sanctions
massive and unprecedented if he attacked Ukraine again.
These sanctions could go as far as cutting Russia off from the cogs of global finance or preventing the entry into service of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline dear to the Kremlin.
The Westerners’ objective is to show themselves more determined than in 2014, when Moscow annexed Ukrainian Crimea without the American-European alliance succeeding in stopping it.
President Putin, who has met twice with his American counterpart Joe Biden since the start of this new crisis, warned that new sanctions would be a
colossal mistake and threatened with a response
military and technical in case
very clearly aggressive line maintenance of its rivals.
The Kremlin says it is the West that provokes Russia by stationing the military at its gates and arming Ukrainian soldiers fighting pro-Russian separatists in Donbass in eastern Ukraine.
He therefore calls for a major treaty excluding the entry of Ukraine into theNATO and the withdrawal of American soldiers from the most eastern countries of the Atlantic Alliance.
” The risk of a new conflict is real. “
But the Americans say they do not want to reduce their troops in Poland or the Baltic countries, and threaten to reinforce them if the Russians go on the offensive.
It is certainly part of their strategy to present a list of absolutely inadmissible demands and then pretend the other side is not playing the game and use that as a justification for aggression., added Antony Blinken.
Europe feels isolated
For John Herbst, former American ambassador to Ukraine, the Russian military deployment is a
gigantic bluff of Vladimir Putin to win concessions.
As long as the Biden administration remains at least as firm as it is now, said this expert from the Atlantic Council think tank,
that should be enough to keep Putin from invading Ukraine, but I’m not ruling out a more limited operation.
Beyond the Ukrainian crisis, Washington hopes to take advantage of the talks to put US-Russian relations back on track, to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. And maybe get some progress on other issues, like disarmament.
From Paris to Berlin via Brussels, calls have multiplied to make a real place at the negotiating table for the countries of the Old Continent, and in particular the European Union, in the face of the Kremlin which seems to want to favor a tête-à-tête. Russian-American.
A test for the United States of Joe Biden, which, despite the promises of consultation, scalded their European allies by giving the impression of going it alone on Afghanistan or the anti-China strategy.