On January 10, the United States and Russia will meet at the next session of the Strategic Stability Dialogue in Geneva. On the eve of it, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov held preliminary talks during a working lunch. Moreover, each party has already outlined its position it will adhere to during the talks main round.
What the USA and Russia to talk about on January 10
During the preliminary negotiations, the parties talked about the subjects that will be discussed during the main round. According to Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Sherman, during a meeting with Ryabkov, noted "the United States' commitment to the international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances" and solving problems through diplomacy. She also stated that some of the issues related to the security of European countries would not be discussed during the round on January 10 without European partners. These points will be presented at the NATO-Russia Council meeting (January 12) and the Russia—OSCE summit (January 13).
What is the US position in talks?
On January 9, according to CNN, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he did not expect a breakthrough in bilateral relations between the United States and Russia after talks this week. He reiterated that it would be difficult to achieve any progress with Russian troops on the Ukrainian border.
"Why are we here? We're here because repeatedly over the last decade, Russia has committed acts of aggression against neighbors—Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine in 2014, and now the renewed threat about Ukraine today. Second, there are large principles at stake that go to the fundamentals of international peace and security," he stated.
Blinken stressed that the United States, together with international partners, would make it clear to the Kremlin that they would not tolerate its aggression.
The Secretary of State said that the US was ready to discuss a number of issues, including arms control, as well as the scope and scale of military maneuvers, but added that Russia should take similar retaliatory steps. He stressed that the United States ruled out the possibility of discussing the withdrawal of its troops from Eastern Europe and the guarantees that NATO would expand to include Ukraine.
"If Russia commits renewed aggression against Ukraine, I think it's a very fair prospect that NATO will reinforce its positions along its eastern flank, in countries bordering on Russia," he said.
What is Russia’s position in talks?
Ryabkov, representing Russia at the talks, predicted that the negotiations would be difficult.
"We plunged into the substance of the forthcoming issues, but the talks are going to be difficult. They cannot be easy. They will be business-like. I think we won’t waste our time tomorrow," Ryabkov told AP reporters.
When asked whether Moscow was ready for a compromise, he said that the Americans should be ready for it. Ryabkov added that the Russian Federation is going to the negotiations with a "clear position" and clearly formulated elements, from which "it is simply impossible to deviate."
Earlier, the diplomat told the Russian outlet TASS that NATO "should pack its kit" and return to the 1997 collective security boundaries.
"Even a layman understands that demanding concessions from Russia in a situation where NATO has been striving, as the saying goes, to "push off" our country and switch it, if not to the role of a subordinate, then at least to secondary roles in the European and international politics, moreover, to do this with direct harm to our security, will no longer be possible… Consequently, NATO should pack its kit and go to the boundaries of 1997," Ryabkov stressed.
He voiced three main demands of Russia:
- no further NATO expansion,
- no missiles on the borders with the Russian Federation,
- the refusal to conduct military exercises and intelligence operations outside its borders in 1997.
Context. The string of talks scheduled for this week is seen as the first step towards resuming dialogue amid deteriorating relations as Russia draws up forces to the Ukrainian border. In the US and Europe, concerns have grown over a new Russian military invasion of the country.
The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward a list of demands, including guarantees that the NATO military alliance would not seek further eastward expansion into countries such as Ukraine or Georgia that were former Soviet republics.