Russia assured the United States today, during the first round of security negotiations in Geneva, that it has no intention of “attacking” Ukraine, while calling it a “great mistake” the fact that NATO refused to concede. security guarantees to Moscow: insists it needs guarantees “written in stone” that Ukraine and Georgia will not become members of the Atlantic Alliance.
“We have no plans, no intention to attack Ukraine, and there cannot be,” said Sergey Riabkov, Russian deputy foreign minister and chief negotiator. Riabkov stressed that he also insisted to the US Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman, that there is no reason to fear a possible escalation as far as Ukraine is concerned. “All operations for the military preparation of the troops are carried out on the margins of our territory, so there is no reason to fear an escalation scenario,” he said.
Riabkov acknowledged that the negotiations were “complicated, but very professional, deep and concrete,” with no attempt to avoid “tough issues.” “We have the impression that the American side has taken our initiatives very seriously,” he added.
The non-enlargement of NATO, an “absolute imperative”
The diplomat argued today in Geneva that security guarantees on the non-enlargement of NATO are an “absolute imperative” for Russia. Furthermore, the Atlantic Alliance must renounce the “assimilation” of the territory of the countries that joined the bloc since 1997, that is, Eastern Europe and the three Baltic republics.
Riabkov admitted that Russian diplomacy consists of seeking “compromises” and a “balance of interests”, but stressed on these three issues that Russia cannot “make concessions.” He called the US “the maximum responsibility”, since “the risks related to a possible worsening of the confrontation cannot be underestimated.”
“Russia cannot forbid the weaving of alliances”
For her part, the US representative, Wendy Sherman, has warned Russia that it cannot prohibit other countries from forging alliances, despite Moscow’s wishes that NATO not expand eastward or that Washington stop supporting on security to Ukraine.
“One country cannot change the border of another by force, dictate the terms of third countries or prohibit them from having alliances,” he warned. However, the “number two” of US diplomacy pointed out that in the meetings there was an open dialogue on the possibility of reciprocally reducing military maneuvers in “border” areas of Europe between NATO and Russia’s area of influence.