Moscow confirms that it does not intend to attack Ukraine and wants to continue talks with Washington

After bilateral talks with the United States on Monday, Russia confirmed that it does not "intend" to attack Ukraine, and the two sides stressed their desire to continue discussions with the aim of de-escalation, but they reiterated their mutual warnings.

The delegations of the two countries in Geneva were led by US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov. The talks came after weeks of war of words that saw the West accuse Russia of wanting to invade Ukraine after dramatically increasing its troop numbers on its neighbour's border.

During the talks, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed Monday in an explosive device explosion in the east of the country, the first two casualties this year on the front line with the pro-Russian separatists.

After the meeting in Geneva, the Russian negotiator confirmed that his country does not intend to attack Ukraine and that the deployment of tens of thousands of military personnel on the border is a reaction to the increasing presence of its Western opponents in the region.

"We made it clear to colleagues that we have no plans and no intention to attack Ukraine," said Sergei Ryabkov.

Wendy Sherman said she reiterated to her counterpart that any invasion of Ukraine would have "significant costs and consequences" for Russia, which called on Russia to initiate "de-escalation" by "returning soldiers to their barracks" rather than massing them along Ukraine's borders.

On Russia's primary demand for security guarantees by not expanding NATO's membership in Eastern Europe and reducing Western military presence in Russia's periphery, the Russian negotiator sounded more positive than the day before.

"We have the impression that the American side took the Russian proposals very seriously," Ryabkov said.

"I don't think the situation is hopeless," he added, but warned that the increasing risks of confrontation "cannot be underestimated."

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that "a real gesture must be taken towards Russia," stressing that Ukraine "should never" join NATO. He considered that concessions must be made "quickly" and that the negotiation process should not take "months and years."

For her part, Sherman explained in a more optimistic tone that the American side put forward ideas that "enable our two countries to take reciprocal measures that would be in our security interests and improve strategic stability."

But US diplomacy stressed the "rejection of security proposals that are simply unacceptable to the United States. We will not allow any party to end NATO's open door policy."

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid another "aggression" against Ukraine and opt for "diplomacy."

Monday's talks in Geneva marked the beginning of a week of intense diplomatic encounters. A meeting between NATO and Russia is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels before Thursday's meeting in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Cold War-era dialogue platform between East and West.

But on the fronts in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers had little expectations about the Westerners' ability to push Moscow back.

"Guarantees that (Ukraine) will not join NATO will not deter" the Russian president, Mikhailo told AFP, while holding his rifle.

The West threatened the Kremlin with "widespread" sanctions if it launched a new aggression against Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 in response to pro-Western demonstrations in Kiev, which is accused of supporting separatist rebels in the east of the country.

For his part, Putin, who met twice with his US counterpart Joe Biden in December, warned that imposing more sanctions on his country would be a "grave mistake." He also waved a "military and technical" response in case his Western opponents "maintain the very pronounced aggressive thrust".

The Kremlin believes that the West is provoking Russia by deploying military forces in its vicinity and arming the Ukrainian army.

He therefore calls for two treaties to ban any future NATO expansion and an end to Western military exercises near the Russian border.

As for NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, he said Monday, while receiving Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stevanishina, that this week's talks will not solve all problems, but the hope is "to agree on the approach to be taken."

التعليقات والاراء

اضافة تعليق