The talks between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian crisis started difficult. The two sides blamed each other, and the prospect of the talks aroused concerns. At the same time, the turmoil in Kazakhstan has added new variables to US-Russian relations.
Russia said on Sunday (January 9) that it would not make concessions under US pressure and warned that this week’s talks on the Ukrainian crisis “may end early”. Washington has also stated that it does not expect a breakthrough.
Reuters reported that Russia’s hardline stance made the prospects for the talks not optimistic. The United States believes that to make progress, Russia must take measures to ease tensions.
Before the official talks began on Sunday, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with the person in charge of Russia’s meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, in Geneva, and conveyed that the United States hopes to pass diplomacy. The desire to make progress.
The U.S. and Russia have little room for concessions
On Monday (January 10) the United States and Russia started their talks in Geneva, and then moved to Brussels and Vienna. However, the Russian News Agency reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov was quoted as saying that diplomatic activities “are likely to end after a meeting.”
Ryabukov also said that the United States should not have illusions about this, “Of course we will not give in to pressure and make any concessions.”
US Secretary of State Blincoln stated in a television interview that he does not think there will be any breakthrough in the talks. He also said that the United States and Russia will put their respective proposals on the table to see if there is room for further advancement.
“As the current upgrade continues, it is difficult to see any real progress. Russia’s 100,000 troops on the border are tantamount to putting the gun on Ukraine’s head.”
New lows after the cold war
The Ukraine crisis has brought US-Russian relations to their lowest point in three decades after the Cold War. Russia’s massive build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border has caused concerns in the West. The United States and Ukraine allege that Russia has assembled troops on the Ukrainian border to invade Ukraine eight years after the annexation of Crimea.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov once compared the confrontation between the United States and Russia in Ukraine with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis once brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of a nuclear war.
Russia has always denied the West’s allegations that it plans to invade Ukraine. Moscow stated that Russia is merely responding to NATO and Ukraine’s aggressive and provocative actions. Russia opposes Ukraine’s pro-NATO policy and Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
Russia’s Red Line
In December last year, Russia proposed to negotiate a series of security proposals with the West to avoid conflicts. The proposals included NATO’s commitment to abandon military operations in Eastern European countries and Ukraine.
On December 26, the Kremlin spokesperson described NATO’s extension to the Russian border as a “life and death” issue. Russia asked NATO to guarantee no further eastward expansion.
The Kremlin’s request is that Russia has actual veto power over NATO’s admission of Ukraine as a member state.
The West has made it clear that it cannot accept this.
Other requests made by Russia include the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of NATO’s multinational forces from Poland and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and other Baltic countries. The three Baltic states were part of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“Best and worst” results
Analysis by BBC Foreign Affairs Correspondent James Landale:
Senior diplomats from the United States and Russia launched the first in a series of talks in the Swiss city of Geneva to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
The expectations of the two sides are far apart. The United States and Western countries hope to persuade Russia not to invade Ukraine, but what Russia wants to talk about is its highest requirement: NATO retreat from Eastern Europe. It requires NATO to withdraw its troops from the former Soviet Union, stop its eastward expansion, and refuse to admit Ukraine.
Some U.S. officials worry that Moscow deliberately raised the request to an unrealistic height. The original intention was to be rejected, and then use this as an excuse for military action. Other diplomats are also worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward more stringent conditions in order to obtain greater concessions from Western countries that are willing to avoid war by concessions. They said that the Russian president is actually calling for an end to Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture and the establishment of Russia’s “sphere of influence.”
(Talks) The best result is that you can learn more about Putin’s intentions and whether he really wants to take a diplomatic channel.
The worst result is that the breakdown of the talks may lead to war, allowing Putin to tell the domestic audience that it is the West who is unwilling to talk and refuse to comply with his demands, and he is forced to take action to ensure Russia’s security.
Last Thursday (January 6) Russia sent troops into Kazakhstan to help suppress the riots, making the situation even more complicated.
The analysis said that the unstable situation in Kazakhstan may aggravate Putin’s sense of crisis and make him work harder to strengthen Russia’s influence on the former Soviet republic. Both Ukraine and Kazakhstan were once part of the Soviet Union.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken mocked Russia’s dispatch of troops to Kazakhstan on Friday (January 7), saying, “The lesson of recent history is that once Russians enter your home, it is sometimes difficult to get them to leave.”
Brinken’s words drew fierce rebuttals from Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the words of the US Secretary of State were insulting and accused him of joking about the tragic incident in Kazakhstan. Russia also reminded the United States to review its history of interference in other countries, such as its aggression against Vietnam and Iraq.