Brussels (Brussels Morning) Russian and US diplomats started talks in Geneva on Monday to defuse tensions between Moscow and Western countries. Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, met with US counterpart Wendy Sherman.
Russian representatives are to meet with delegations from NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) later this week, DW reports.
Tensions between Russia and the West are high as some in the West are concerned that the deployment of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine could be preparation for an invasion. Moscow rejects the accusation but warns against NATO’s eastward expansion.
Moscow wants assurances from NATO that it will neither expand eastward nor accept Ukraine’s application for membership.
The US has noted that it finds some of Russia’s demands unacceptable. Meanwhile, Ryabkov has pointed out that it would be naive to expect “progress, let alone quick progress.”
According to the Russian diplomatic mission, “the talks promise to be long and substantial.”
Parallel talks between NATO, Ukraine
As Russian and US diplomats discuss the situation, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is meeting with Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna.
At a joint press conference on Monday, Stoltenberg stressed that “any further aggression against Ukraine would come at a high political and economic price” for Russia.
He made the point that Ukraine is a “valued and longstanding partner to NATO.”
Commenting on Wednesday’s upcoming meeting between Russian and NATO officials in Brussels, Stoltenberg described Moscow’s willingness to attend as positive.
He welcomed the fact that Russia “has agreed to our offer to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council later this week”, while noting that it would be focused on security issues in Europe.
“We will listen to Russia’s concerns, but any meaningful dialogue must also address our concerns about Russia’s actions”, Stoltenberg declared.In recent weeks, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has talked with US President Joe Biden twice by phone. Biden cautioned that a new invasion of Ukraine would result in serious consequences that could include additional sanctions or the exclusion of Russia from the global banking network.