Status: 10.01.2022 1:49 a.m.
Before today’s meeting with Russia, the US is demanding that its interlocutor de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, US Secretary of State Blinken dampened expectations of the negotiations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Russia to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis ahead of the important negotiations next week. It is difficult to make progress “in an atmosphere of escalation with a pistol at the head of Ukraine,” said Blinken on CNN. “So if we really want to make progress, we have to see de-escalation.”
Representatives of the USA and Russia are negotiating in Geneva today. A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels – the first in two and a half years. Thereafter there will be talks in Vienna on Thursday within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Blinken doesn’t believe in “breakthroughs”
Blinken dampened expectations of the negotiations. “I don’t think we will see any breakthroughs in the coming week,” said the minister. “We will be able to put things on the table. The Russians will do the same, both directly with us and with NATO and the OSCE.” Then they will see if there are any opportunities for progress.
From the point of view of the USA, the principle of reciprocity applies in the negotiations, Blinken said. Every step that the United States and Europe take must be reciprocated by Russia. From Washington’s point of view, neither a withdrawal of US troops from Eastern Europe nor a promise not to expand NATO are up for negotiation.
On the Russian side, the upcoming talks are being led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. According to the RIA, he said in advance that it was quite possible that diplomacy could end abruptly after a single meeting.
The US side had also previously dampened expectations of the talks. “We are entering these talks with realism and not with optimism,” a US government official said in a telephone conversation with journalists.
First preliminary talk on Sunday evening
According to a spokesman for the State Department, the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman Ryabkov will meet for an initial meeting on Sunday evening after her arrival in Geneva.
The official meeting on Monday is to be followed by the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels for more than two years on Wednesday. Talks will then take place in Vienna on January 13th within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Conflict has been simmering for weeks
The situation has been tense for weeks. Russia has gathered around 100,000 soldiers on its border with Ukraine. The government in Kiev and western states fear that this could serve to prepare for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian government denies aggressive intentions but has made sweeping demands. In addition to the non-NATO expansion, this includes a withdrawal of offensive weapons from the region. The Russian government set out the demands in a draft security agreement that it submitted to NATO.
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Ukraine conflict: USA demands de-escalation from Russia