Russia excludes concessions in Ukraine-US talks

Russia has exerted intense pressure on neighboring Ukraine since 2014 after a revolution toppled a government that sided with the Kremlin

Russia ruled out any concessions on Sunday in talks with the United States over mounting tensions over Ukraine, as Moscow, facing heavy pressure to withdraw its troops, seeks a new, wide-ranging security deal with the United States. ‘West.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russian news agencies ahead of his talks in Geneva that the Kremlin was “disappointed” by signals coming from Washington and Brussels, where NATO and the United Nations are based. European Union.

Since the end of last year, Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border and demanded guarantees that NATO will not expand further east.

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The United States, which will be represented by Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, agreed to the talks even though it made it clear that many of Moscow’s proposals made no sense.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released images of Ryabkov’s plane arriving in Geneva.

“We are disappointed with the signals coming in recent days from Washington but also from Brussels.”

“We are ready to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression. But a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable if Russia chooses it,” Blinken said on Friday.

– “Massive” reprisals –

The measures under consideration include sanctions against Putin’s inner circle, the cancellation of the controversial Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany or, in the most drastic scenario, the severing of Russia’s ties to the global banking system.

The Europeans have shown solidarity, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visiting the front line in Ukraine, though some countries are likely to hesitate to take the most drastic measures.

Russia insists that it was deceived after the Cold War and understood that NATO would not expand.

Russia has been putting intense pressure on Ukraine since 2014 after a revolution toppled a government that sided with the Kremlin against rapprochement with Europe.

At a time when Russia is also stepping in to bolster its allies in the face of popular uprisings in Belarus and Kazakhstan, Moscow has insisted it wants concrete progress in talks with Washington.

– ‘A gigantic bluff’? –

Despite “the threats which are constantly formulated against us (…) we will not make any concessions”, he declared, adding that this would amount “to acting against the interests of our security”.

But John Herbst, former US ambassador to Ukraine, described the building of Russian troops as a “gigantic bluff” by Putin to seek a negotiated deal.

“As long as the Biden administration remains at least as strong as it is now,” he said, “that’s probably enough to stop Putin from hitting hard in Ukraine, but I’m not ruling out something something smaller “.

bur-lc / rjm / bp

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