Thursday, May 26

Ukraine talks: Russia sees no reason for optimism ahead of NATO meeting | Russia


The Kremlin has said it sees “no major reason for optimism” about diplomatic solutions to the Ukraine crisis, ahead of a meeting in Brussels between Russia and the 30 NATO member states.

As Moscow downplayed the chances of success at the negotiating table after initial talks between the United States and Russia in Switzerland on Monday, Russian forces deployed near Ukraine conducted a live-fire military exercise involving 3,000 soldiers and tanks. , in a clear rejection of the United States’ demands for a de-escalation in the region.

A Russian delegation will hold talks with all 30 NATO member states on Wednesday, at the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council to take place since 2019. The idea behind the talks is to expand the bilateral discussion started by the US undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman. , and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, in Geneva.

Sherman and Ryabkov noted the “useful” and “professional” nature of the Geneva talks, in which the US proposed reciprocal confidence-building measures limiting missile deployment and military exercises in Europe.

But Ryabkov said the negotiations had not progressed toward meeting Vladimir Putin’s core demand: a guarantee that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO and that US troops and equipment will withdraw from former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe who are now in NATO.

“So far, let’s say we don’t see any significant reason for optimism,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Russia was looking for quick results and would make an assessment of progress at the end of the week, after NATO. talks and a meeting Thursday of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will give a press conference on Friday.

“There are no clear deadlines here, nobody is setting them. There is only the Russian position that we will not be satisfied with the endless prolongation of this process, “said Peskov.

The United States has firmly rejected key Russian demands on NATO enlargement and troop withdrawals from Eastern European countries that joined the treaty after 1997 as “not headlines.” Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to NATO, said Russia would receive the same response from all members of the alliance on Wednesday.

“In our previous consultations and meetings with allies … it has become very clear that no ally within the NATO alliance is willing to compromise or compromise on NATO’s open door policy,” Smith told reporters. “I can’t imagine any scenario where that is up for discussion.”

Regarding NATO’s return to its old position before it began its eastward expansion in 1997, the ambassador said: “I think we are operating in today’s world with NATO as it is today, and I don’t think anyone within the NATO alliance be interested in going back in time to revisit an era in which NATO looked very different than it does today ”.

Kadri Liik, senior policy researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the approaches followed by the US and Russia were fundamentally incompatible, as the US sought to reduce the talks to technical issues of arms control, while that Russia wanted to use them to redefine Europe’s politics. all security order.

“From Moscow’s point of view, arms control agreements should follow the logic of the new agreed order, not replace it,” Liik said.

Whatever the outcome of this week’s diplomacy, he predicted that it “will probably shape the strategic landscape of Europe for many years to come.”


www.theguardian.com

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