US are ‘cautious’ with Russia talks says expert
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This week a series of meetings are being held between the US, allied nations and Russia. The talks have been called owing to fears, in the West, that Russia is preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine and follow direct conversations shared between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. So, what exactly did we learn from the first meeting?
Russia says it has “no plans” to invade Ukraine
On Monday, representatives from the US and Russia met in Geneva, Switzerland, for discussions which lasted several hours.
During the talks, Russia told the US it has “no plans” to attack Ukraine, despite having reportedly amassed around 100,000 soldiers on its western border.
Both sides agreed to continue efforts to reduce tensions, although there was no sign of a major breakthrough once the talks had concluded.
Sanctions would be imposed if Russia attacks Ukraine
The US has said were Russia to attack Ukraine it would be subjected to sanctions.
Russia, meanwhile, has warned the US not to “underestimate the risks” involved in Moscow’s confrontation with the West.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters following the meeting: “We explained to our colleagues that we have no plans, no intentions to attack Ukraine.”
He added Russia had communicated to the US delegation “that all measures for the combat training of troops and forces are carried out within our territory” and that there was “no reason to fear any escalation scenario in this regard”.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman described the talks as “frank and forthright” discussions aimed at encouraging a better understanding of each side’s security concerns.
Russia demanded NATO don’t ally with Ukraine
According to Ms Sherman, Russian proposals that were “non-starters” for the US Government – including Russia’s demand that The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) commit to never absorbing Ukraine into its alliance – were rebuffed by the US.
She said: “We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance.”
Ms Sherman added the Russian officials were warned they would be met with “significant cost and consequences well beyond what they faced in 2014” – when Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine – were they to launch an invasion.
These measures could include sanctions against key financial institutions, export controls, “enhancements of NATO force posture on allied territory” and increased security assistance to Ukraine, she added.
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More talks are on the cards
The Geneva talks are the first of several meetings between US, allied nations and Russian officials this week.
Talks will also include a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels and at the permanent council of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes Russia.
Monday’s meeting, however, took place without the participation of US European allies, including Ukraine.
Consequently, Ms Sherman and other US officials moved to reassure Ukraine, Europe and NATO that they would be included in any decisions.
Shortly before Christmas, Russia unveiled a number of draft security documents that it wants the US to agree to.
As part of the proposals, it is demanding NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries – such as Latvia and Lithuania.
The documents would also provide a legally binding guarantee that NATO will give up military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine.
Mr Putin has said that Ukraine’s entry into NATO would leave Russia unprotected from a direct attack from the West.
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