10 Jan. 2022 22:59
The head of the Russian delegation for the diplomatic crisis talks in Geneva, Sergei Ryabkov, gave a major press conference after the meeting with his US colleague. He named three positions of Russia that are under no circumstances negotiable.
After the nine-hour meeting of the Russian and US delegations in Geneva on January 10, the head of the Russian delegation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, gave a press conference. His counterpart on the US side was Vice Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Ryabkov rated the conversation as “professional and specific”. “We got the impression that the US side took the Russian proposals seriously,” he said. The sides, however, have not come closer to one another. From a Russian perspective, there are three key issues that are non-negotiable.
- Legal guarantees for a NATO renunciation of further eastward expansion. This aspect is considered an “absolute imperative”.
- Legal guarantees that no combat systems “capable of shooting targets on our territory” will be set up on Russia’s border. This aspect is also mandatory.
- NATO must “basically” forego the military development of the territories of states that joined NATO after 1997.
The head of the Russian delegation stressed that further talks will only be possible if progress is made on all three positions. “The cards are on the table. We do and do what we think. Diplomacy requires a balance of interests. But we cannot back down here.”
A concession is expected from the western side. “NATO must move towards Russia.” Talks on disarmament control also depend on it. Questions of strategic stability were only discussed in passing.
“Objectivity gives cause for optimism. But we do not see that the US side understands that for us the solution of these questions in a sense that is acceptable to us is indispensable.”
For the US side, the question of a “Russian invasion” alleged by the western media in Ukraine and the “stationing of 100,000 Russian soldiers in the border area with Ukraine” was the focus. The US had issued threats in this regard, said Ryabkov.
During his press conference, he emphasized several times that Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine. This is a sign that Russia is not engaged in diplomatic trade. Regarding the Russian military exercises, he said: “We will continue to carry out such training measures, no matter what is said.”
The diplomat pointed out that NATO’s cooperation with Ukraine is more advanced compared to many NATO countries. “It’s much more dangerous for us.” Constant military flights, the use of the port by the navy, simulations of nuclear strikes against the Crimea or flights by military helicopters over Dniepr in Kiev are examples of this. As is often the case in Russia, Kiev called Ryabkov the “mother of Russian cities”.
During the press briefing, which lasted more than an hour, Ryabkov repeatedly stressed Russia’s determination not to deviate from his position. He called the persistence of the USA “playing with fire”.
“We are not came to Geneva so that everything would come to a dead end. We have tried very hard to show that playing with fire is not in their (US) interests. The matrix of our relationships needs to be fundamentally changed. “
Ryabkov underlined that it now makes no sense to talk specifically about the Russian counter-threats against the NATO countries. Otherwise these Russian proposals would have been an ultimatum. But he also stated that the installation of US weapons systems on European territory could mean that “these countries will suffer under adverse circumstances”.
Although expectations from the Russian side are subdued, Ryabkov said the Geneva meeting was useful. “The usefulness of the meeting is that for the first time we spoke about issues that were previously excluded. This has a healthy effect on our relations with the West.” Two more meetings are planned – on January 12th with NATO and on January 13th with the OSCE. “Then we will see whether it is worthwhile to continue the talks.”
“We hope that NATO will gain the upper hand that a NATO step on Russia is too necessary. If, contrary to expectations, this does not happen, then a decision will be made that weighs all the factors. I can not anticipate anything but say that we want to avoid NATO making mistakes again that could seriously damage European security, “said the Russian diplomat.
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