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Geneva start: what the first round of security talks between the Russian Federation and the United States showed

Written by The Frontier Post

SHITOV Andrey

Russia did not intend and does not intend to attack Ukraine, but Moscow does not intend to indifferently watch how the United States and its NATO partners “master” the territory of this country in their own interests and thereby create a threat to our security. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who heads the Russian delegation at the talks with the United States on a new Russian initiative on security guarantees, confirmed this at a press conference following the first meeting with American colleagues held in Geneva. He made it clear enough what could be counter military-technical measures on the part of Russia if the legitimate interests of its security again, as has happened many times in the past, are left unattended.

In fact, the first meeting was of an organizational nature and was intended to clarify whether there is a basis for further joint work. Both Moscow and Washington intend to make a final conclusion on this score after two more rounds of multilateral negotiations to be held in the coming days at the sites of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels and the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.

“Better than nothing”.

Regarding the first conversation, the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said today that “we do not see any significant reason for optimism so far,” although by their nature the discussions were “open, substantive and direct,” and this in itself “deserves a positive assessment “. “But this is not a process for the sake of a process, and this is not something that can cause satisfaction, because the result is important here,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

Non-starters for the USA

The main subject of discussion at the talks was two Russian draft fundamental documents – a treaty between Russia and the United States on security guarantees and an agreement on security measures between Russia and NATO. They were handed over by the Russian side to Western partners back in December and made public.

Ryabkov’s American counterpart, US First Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, at her own briefing for journalists, said that in detail, point by point, the Russian proposals were not considered at the first meeting. She also stressed that the Americans, for their part, “came with a number of considerations about where our two countries could take reciprocal steps that would meet security interests and strengthen strategic stability.” According to her, the United States “offered to meet again soon for a more detailed discussion of these bilateral issues.”

For all that, Sherman mentioned that the Russian positions contain “notoriously unacceptable” points (non-starters) for the United States. Thus, according to her, Washington “will not allow anyone to slam the” open doors “to NATO,” that is, to rule out further expansion of the alliance. He also “will not give up bilateral cooperation with sovereign states wishing to work with the United States.” Finally, he is going to strictly adhere to the principle of “nothing about you without you” in relation to the “allies and partners” of the United States in Europe, including Ukraine.

Countermeasures of Russia

In my opinion, this directly contradicts the key requirements of Moscow and should be “deliberately unacceptable” for it already. At a meeting with Ryabkov, foreign journalists tried to find out what such an approach could be fraught with for the West, and they received, in my opinion, a completely understandable answer, albeit clothed in a grammatical form of negation.

First of all, the Russian diplomat once again denied speculation about an allegedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine: “Russia has no plans, intentions or reasons (if we again use the favorite clichés from NATO documents) to attack Ukraine.”

As for the possible risks to the security of the United States and its European satellites, Ryabkov again recalled the well-known words of the Russian president that this is a “military-technical response.” “Now there is no reason to talk about what systems, in what quantity and where exactly can be deployed,” he said. “This will immediately be perceived as a new threat from the Russian side, by way “.

The meaning, in my opinion, is clear. There is no reason to immediately concretize the plans, but if the West once again tries to ignore or “blabber” our legitimate efforts to ensure our security, then in due time in the right places there will be a proper number of systems that it will have to reckon with. Probably, without explanation, it is clear that all this will not threaten Ukraine.

Primary and secondary

Therefore, it is unlikely that Russia, the United States and their allies will be able to get away from discussing the issues put at the forefront by Russia, the United States and their allies. Sherman tried to “cast the bait” in other directions, expressing readiness to discuss topics such as “the future of certain missile systems in Europe – in the spirit of the now defunct INF Treaty”, as well as limiting the scope of military exercises and “increasing transparency” during their conduct. But the Russian side accepted these attempts, to put it mildly, without enthusiasm.

Reporters asked Ryabkov about this, and he said: “The issue of NATO’s non-expansion and the formalization of this decision in a legally binding form is of paramount importance for us – in the literal sense of the word. leave offscreen because we’re focused on the first topic. ” The diplomat added that “in other circumstances” additional considerations could be important, but not in conditions when we do not yet see “a plus in the main topic.”

Without reliance on trust

It remains to add that the heads of the Russian and American delegations held their briefings simultaneously and even received requests in real time to respond to each other’s words. A sign of “playing ahead” was the fact that the Americans, contrary to their custom, did not impose any coverage time embargo at their briefing at all.

In dealing with the press, Ryabkov was by no means more democratic than his American counterpart: he invited the assembled journalists to ask questions in a circle, and answered them both in Russian and in English. The most striking quote was the likeness of the American news service Bloomberg in its coverage of Russian positions to the “slightly smelly” Roquefort cheese.

To the reporter of this edition, it was, however, only into the hands, since it also made it possible to enter into an argument. And in general, he had nothing to be offended: at the briefing Sherman, led by the moderator, did not give the floor to Russian journalists at all. The lines were opened only for representatives of leading Western publications, and the only notable exception was the question of whether China could play any role in the negotiations on Ukraine.

The American replied that this topic was not discussed. But on the other hand, she explained in an interesting way to the same reporter – a certain Nike Ching, whose publication was not named – her attitude to the topic of mutual trust between the negotiators. “As a diplomat and negotiator, I usually do not rely on trust in situations like this,” she said.

Judging by Sherman’s statements, Washington, as well as Moscow, proceeds from the premise that “the main thing is the results.” Which, she added, should “enhance US security,” but it is preferable that they be “reciprocal.” That is, presumably, mutually beneficial.

It should show in the very near future whether such a basis is sufficient for negotiations.

Courtesy: (TASS)

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