Moscow Pessimistic Ahead of Security Talks with U.S.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state-owned Ria Novosti today that Moscow is disappointed with signals coming from the West ahead of the January 9-10 U.S.-Russia security talks in Geneva.

Ryabkov, who leads the Russian delegation in the talks, claimed that statements by officials in Washington and Brussels “reflect a lack of understanding” of what Russia needs in terms of guarantees, such as the non-expansion of NATO.

The senior Russian diplomat argued that the dialogue with the U.S. could become pointless to continue if Moscow does not “see the slightest sign of readiness on the other side to take into account our priorities, to respond to them in a constructive way.”

He went on to accuse U.S. officials of demanding Russia to make unilateral concessions and issuing speculations that “Russia should do this, do something else, take this step, [or] that step.”

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister assumed a tough pose, claiming Moscow itself will not make any concessions “under the suppression and threats” from the Western states.

The talks between Moscow and Washington in Geneva will kick off a series of high-level meetings on security guarantees, including the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels and consultations at the OSCE in Vienna.

Moscow demands to sign agreements with Washington and NATO allies that would prevent the Alliance’s eastward enlargement and deny accession of former Soviet republics, including Georgia and Ukraine.

The draft proposals unveiled by the Russian Foreign Ministry (MID) in December also included provisions obligating the U.S. not to establish military bases in former Soviet states and not to deploy armed forces, weaponry, ground-launched missiles, or warships in areas from where it could strike Russia.

Speaking about the upcoming security dialogue, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken reaffirmed on January 7 that the open door policy “was a core provision of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty,” and that there “was no promise that NATO wouldn’t expand.”

Secretary Blinken said Russia has challenged fundamental rules that borders and territorial integrity of a state cannot be changed by force and that it is an inherent right of citizens in a democracy to make their country’s decisions.

In challenging these principles, the top U.S. diplomat highlighted, “Russia seeks to challenge the international system itself and to unravel our transatlantic alliance, erode our unity, pressure democracies into failure.”

The State Secretary asserted that over the past two decades Russia has invaded Georgia and Ukraine, maintained troops and munitions in Moldova against the will of the government, interfered in elections in other nations, violated international arms control agreements, supported violent dictators and enabled crimes against humanity, among others.

“Moscow’s actions have threatened to set a new precedent on European soil whereby basic international principles that are vital to peace and security are up for debate,” Secretary Blinken stated.

The senior diplomat maintained that it will be very difficult to make “actual progress” in the talks with Moscow if “Russia continues to escalate its military buildup and its inflammatory rhetoric.”

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