The United States and Russia have begun talks on Ukrainian tensions, although neither side is expected to reach an agreement.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met in Geneva on Monday to launch long-awaited talks. It is unclear how long the talks are expected to last, although they have been referred to as part of “strategic security talks” launched by President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin last June.
Despite the diplomatic meeting, there is little chance that any agreement or success will be achieved during the negotiations. Ryabkov told attendees at an informal dinner meeting on Sunday that he expected talks to be “difficult,” while Sherman doubled down on America’s “commitment … to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom of sovereign nations to choose their alliances.” done.” ,
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “What we are hoping for is that we can agree on a way forward, that we can agree on a series of meetings, that we can agree on a process can.”
The talks are expected to be followed by a meeting between Russia and NATO on January 12, 2022.
All these meetings are being done to defuse the growing tension between Russia and its neighboring country Ukraine. Ukraine, both former Soviet entities, has been pushing to become a member of NATO over the past few weeks, as a result of which Russia has increased its military presence on the border.
The US this week downplayed expectations of significant progress, saying some demands – such as a possible halt to NATO expansion – go against the sovereign rights of countries to establish their own security arrangements, and thus non-governmental organizations. are negotiable.
But US officials have expressed openness to other ideas, such as reducing potential future deployments of offensive missiles in Ukraine and imposing limits on US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe – if Russia is willing to withdraw from Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken bluntly said on Sunday that he did not expect any success in the coming week. Instead, he said a more likely positive outcome would be an agreement to ease tensions in the short term and return to talks at an appropriate time in the future. But the US has to de-escalate for real progress there.
Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week”, “It’s hard to see a sustained increase when Ukraine with 100,000 soldiers near the borders of Russia has a gun to the head, doubling it on very little command.” likely to do.” ,
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also sought to downplay expectations.
“I don’t think we can expect that these meetings will resolve all issues,” he told reporters in Brussels on Monday after talks with Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Olga Stefanishyna. .
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Rome, German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said talks offered the only way out of the crisis.
“At the same time, it is equally clear that the renewed violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by Russia will have dire consequences,” she said.
Russia has said it wants the issue to be resolved this month, but NATO is wary that Putin is looking for excuses such as a failure in talks to launch an offensive.
The United States, which has stressed that Ukraine’s government and people from other European countries need to be included in the discussion, plans to discuss some bilateral issues in Geneva “but without our European allies and partners.” Will not discuss European security,” Price said on Sunday.
According to state news agency Tass on Sunday, Ryabkov said Russia entered the talks to clearly understand America’s position and cited signs from Washington that some Russian proposals could be discussed.
Ryabkov put forward three Russian demands: no further NATO expansion, no missiles on Russia’s borders, and that NATO should no longer have military exercises, intelligence operations, or infrastructure outside its 1997 borders.
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—at a high level—that it is possible to deviate from our point of view.” Not there.” Journalist Sunday.
Asked if Russia was ready for a deal, he said, “The Americans should be ready to compromise.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.