Possibilities low in preparation for US, Russia meeting over Ukraine

by Matthew Lee | The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — With the fate of Ukraine and European stability in the wake of a potentially wider Cold War, the United States and Russia are holding important strategic talks that could shape not only the future of their relationship, but the relationship between the US and its NATO allies. can shape. The prospects are bleak.

While the urgency of the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine will be top of the agenda in a series of high-level meetings on Monday, from arms control to cybercrime and diplomatic issues, there is a large but largely unrelated controversy of celebration. . To ease tensions, to remove Washington and Moscow. And the recent deployment of Russian troops in Kazakhstan could have an impact on the entire exercise.

Both sides are positioning themselves for an almost unprecedented flurry of activity in Europe this week, with both risks looming large and warnings of dire consequences of failure. Yet the wide divergence in his early positions is ill-equipped for any kind of quick resolution, and the levels of distrust appear higher than at any point since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Foreign Minister 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.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Blinken said, “It’s hard to see when Ukraine with 100,000 soldiers near the borders of Russia has a gun going to the head, doubling it on very little command. “

US officials on Saturday revealed some details of the administration’s stance, which appear to be far less than Russian demands. Officials said the US is ready to discuss reducing the potential deployment of offensive missiles in Ukraine and limiting US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe if Russia is ready to withdraw from Ukraine.

But he also said that if Russia intervenes in Ukraine, it will be hit hard by economic sanctions. In addition to direct sanctions on Russian entities, those penalties could include significant sanctions on products exported from the US to Russia and potentially foreign-made products subject to US jurisdiction.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who will lead Russia’s delegation to the Geneva talks, responded strongly to Blinken’s statement.

“The demands of the United States and other NATO countries that we implement certain de-escalation measures in our region are excluded from the discussion. This is a non-starter in the literal sense of the word,” Tass Ryabkov Said in an interview with the news agency.

Russia wants the talks to initially produce a formally binding security guarantee, with a pledge that NATO will not expand further east and withdraw US troops and weapons from parts of Europe. But the US and its allies say they are non-starters deliberately designed by Moscow to distract and divide. They insist that any Russian military intervention in Ukraine would have “massive consequences” that would dramatically disrupt Russia’s economy, even if they had global ripple effects.

To deter Russia’s attempts to sow discord in the West, the Biden administration has gone out of its way to emphasize that neither Ukraine nor Europe more broadly should have any discussion of Ukraine or Europe’s security. will be excluded from

Biden administration officials allow that no topic can be completely overlooked when senior US and Russian diplomats sit down in Geneva on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of bigger, more inclusive meetings in Brussels and Vienna that will address those issues. Will probably explore more deeply.

Still, the chants “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine” and “nothing about Europe without Europe” have become almost cliché in Washington in recent weeks, and senior US officials have even said that they expect Russia to lie about Monday’s material. meeting to try to incite division.

“We fully expect the Russian side to make public comments after the meeting on Monday that may not reflect the true nature of the discussions,” a senior US official who participated in the talks said. The officer was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

That official and others have urged allies to look at what Moscow says about the so-called strategic stability talks with “extreme skepticism” and wait until they are informed by US participants to form an opinion. Do not be given

Blinken has accused Russia of “gaslighting” and carrying out a full-scale propaganda campaign designed to blame Ukraine, NATO and especially the United States for undermining current tensions and Western unity. . He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an all-out war on truth that ignores Russia’s own provocative and destabilizing actions over the past decade.

“Russia itself seeks to challenge the international system and expose our trans-Atlantic alliance, undermining our unity,” Blanken said Friday through a list of aggressive Russian activities ranging from military interventions in Ukraine and Georgia. It fails democracy.” In the US and elsewhere, chemical weapons attacks on Putin’s critics for election interference, cybercrime and support for dictators.

Despite several talks between President Joe Biden and Putin, including a personal meeting last summer, Blinken said such behavior continued, increasing risks to the post-World War II global order.

Thus, intensified US and allied efforts to restore normalcy at both warnings and “serious costs” to Russia if it moves against Ukraine. While feelings of unity were emerging, Blinken was not optimistic about the prospects for success in the negotiations.

“To the extent that progress has to be made – and we hope that – by Russia in an environment of growth, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to make real progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russia has fabricated a story that it is a victim of Western aggression and wants quick results from the meetings, despite insurmountable differences.

Putin has repeatedly warned that Moscow will have to take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West thwarts Russia’s demands, and reaffirmed that NATO membership to Ukraine or the deployment of coalition weapons would be a threat to Moscow. There is a red line which he will not allow west to cross.

“We have nowhere to retreat, NATO can deploy missiles in Ukraine that will only take four or five minutes to reach Moscow,” Putin said last month. can not do. They’ve gotten to the point where we just have to tell them; ‘Pause!'”