The prospects are dim as the US and Russia prepare to meet in Ukraine



With the fate of Ukraine and the stability of post-Cold War Europe likely at stake, the US and Russia are holding key strategic talks that could shape the future of more than just their relationship. but also the relationship between the United States and its NATO allies. The outlook is bleak.

Although the immediate threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda in a series of high-level meetings on Monday, many disputes still flare up. largely unrelated, from arms control to cybercrime and foreign affairs. , so that Washington and Moscow can get through if tensions ease. And Russia’s recent deployment to Kazakhstan could cast a shadow over the entire exercise.

With plenty of risk and both warning of dire consequences of failure, the two sides have positioned themselves for an almost unprecedented explosive activity in Europe this week. However, the wide variation in their open positions signals any kind of swift resolution, and a higher level of mistrust emerges than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

US officials on Saturday revealed some details about the administration’s stance, which does not appear to be in line with Russia’s demands. Officials have said the United States is ready to discuss limiting the possible future deployment of offensive missiles in Ukraine and placing limits on US and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe if Russia is ready against Ukraine.

But they also said Russia would be hit hard by economic sanctions if it intervened in Ukraine. In addition to direct sanctions against Russian entities, those penalties may include significant restrictions on products exported from the United States to Russia and products capable of being manufactured in Russia. foreign countries under the jurisdiction of the United States.

Russia wants the initial negotiations to create officially binding security guarantees for itself with a commitment that NATO will not expand further east and the removal of American troops and weapons from its regions. Europe. However, the US and its allies say these are missions deliberately designed by Moscow to distract and divide. They stressed that any Russian military intervention in Ukraine would have “major consequences” that would significantly disrupt the Russian economy even if they had global implications.

In an effort to thwart Russia’s efforts to sow discord in the West, the Biden administration has tried to emphasize that neither Ukraine nor Europe as a whole will be excluded from any discussion of Ukraine’s security. or Europe.

Biden administration officials say no topic can be completely ignored as senior US and Russian diplomats sit down in Geneva on Monday ahead of larger, more inclusive meetings in Brussels and Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday will explore those issues perhaps more deeply.

However, the mantras “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine” and “nothing about Europe without Europe” have become almost cliché in Washington in recent weeks and senior officials US officials went as far as to say they expected Russia to lie about Monday’s content. meeting to try to cause division.

“We fully expect that the Russian side will make public comments after the meeting on Monday that will not reflect the true nature of the talks,” said a senior US official involved in the talks. discussion took place. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

That official and others have urged allies to view with “extreme skepticism” anything Moscow has to say about the so-called Strategic Stability Talks and wait until they are heard by participants. United States brief notice to comment.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of “inciting” and carrying out a full-scale disinformation campaign designed to blame Ukraine, NATO and especially the United States for the current tensions and make weaken the unification of the West. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is engaged in an all-out war of truth that ignores Russia’s own destabilizing and provocative actions over the past decade.

“Russia seeks to challenge the international system itself and disrupt our transatlantic alliance, undermine our unity, pressure democracies to fail,” Blnken said. said on Friday, browsing through a list of offensive Russian activities, from military interventions in Ukraine and Georgia to chemical weapons attacks targeting Putin’s critics to election interference. elections in the US and elsewhere, cybercrime and support for dictators.

Despite several conversations between Presidents Joe Biden and Putin, including a face-to-face meeting last summer, Blinken said such behavior continues, posing an increased risk to the global order post-World War II era.

Thus, the increased effort by the United States and its allies to forge common ground on both the warnings and the “costs” for Russia should it act against Ukraine. While signs of unification are underway, Blinken is not optimistic about the prospects for success in the negotiations.

“To the extent that there is progress to be made – and we hope that there is – actual progress will be very difficult, if not impossible, in an escalatory Russian environment,” he said. ,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russia has stated that it is a threatened victim of Western aggression and wants quick results from the meetings despite seemingly insurmountable differences.

Putin has repeatedly warned that Moscow will have to take unspecified “military-technical measures” if the West opposes Russia’s demands and asserts NATO membership for Ukraine or the Coalition weapons deployment is a red line that Moscow does not allow. West to pass.

“We have nowhere to turn,” Putin said last month, adding that NATO could deploy missiles in Ukraine that would only take four or five minutes to Moscow. “They pushed us to a line that we couldn’t cross. They got it to the point where we simply had to tell them; ‘Stop!'”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who will lead the Russian delegation at the Geneva talks along with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, said last week it would be quickly clear whether the talks could bear fruit. or not.

“It will become clear after the events of next week,” he said in an interview with the daily Izvestia.

“So far, we have heard some rather abstract comments from the US, NATO and other countries about what is acceptable and what is not and emphasizes dialogue and the importance of dialogue. Russia must de-escalate. There is little rationality in that approach given the unstoppable and rather powerful military and geopolitical developments of the territories near Russia’s borders by NATO, the emergence of new weapons systems, gas there, the operation of the drills. “

On Sunday night, Ryabkov and Sherman will meet for a working dinner to discuss topics for the next day’s talks, a US official said.

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Aila Slisco

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