Russia strikes tough, pessimistic line on chances for talks with US

MOSCOW: Russia said on Sunday January 9 that it would not make any concessions under American pressure in this week’s talks on the Ukraine crisis and its demands for Western security guarantees, and that there was a risk that they would end quickly.

Talks are scheduled for Geneva, Brussels and Vienna, but the state-run RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying it was entirely possible that diplomacy could end abruptly after just one meeting. .

“I can not exclude anything, it is a very possible scenario and the Americans (…) should not be under any illusions about it”, he declared.

“Of course, we will not make any concessions under the pressure and over the threats that are constantly being formed by Western participants in the upcoming talks.”

The Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov, who will head the Russian delegation in Geneva, as saying that Moscow was not optimistic ahead of the talks.

His comments signaled an uncompromising line from Moscow at the most strained point in US-Russian relations since the Cold War.

Tens of thousands of Russian troops are gathered near the border with Ukraine in preparation for what Washington and Kiev could be another invasion, eight years after Russia took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

Russia denies invasion plans and says it is responding to what it calls aggressive and provocative behavior by the military alliance of NATO and Ukraine, its former Soviet neighbor who has leaned towards the West and aspires to join NATO.

Russia last month put forward a broad set of demands, including a ban on further NATO expansion and an end to alliance activities in the Central and Eastern European countries that joined it after 1997.

The United States and NATO have said that many of the Russian proposals are unfounded.

A senior official in the Biden administration said on Saturday that the United States was unwilling to discuss the limits of U.S. troop deployments or the posture of U.S. forces in NATO countries in the region.

He was, however, ready to raise the possibility that each side would restrict military exercises and missile deployments in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the team led by Ryabkov had arrived in Geneva, where official talks are due to take place on Monday.

Russia is also due to hold negotiations with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday and at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.

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