US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva on Friday for a new round of talks aimed at easing the crisis on the Ukrainian border, where Moscow has mobilized more than 100,000 troops.
An “intermediate” meeting
The meeting between the two diplomats ended after almost two hours.
Sergei Lavrov later said that it was an “interim” meeting and that he hoped for a “reduction of emotion” after these “sincere” Russian-American negotiations.
Russia’s foreign minister has said that the United States will provide a written response to Russia’s formal list of demands next week.
Among the demands is the written guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO, but also the fact that NATO forces will withdraw from Eastern Europe, including Romania and Bulgaria.
What does everyone expect from the Geneva meeting? Russia wants concrete, written answers to its demands. The United States wants to ensure that diplomatic negotiations continue.
In a brief statement before the Geneva meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he did not expect a resolution of the crisis after talks.
“But we are waiting for concrete answers to our concrete proposals,” Lavrov said.
“It simply came to our notice then. But we hope and expect that we can see if the path to diplomacy and dialogue remains open, “Blinken was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
Russia is looking closely at Romania
On the very day of the negotiations, Russia explicitly mentioned Romania in its list of demands for the West.
Russia’s security guarantees from the West include the withdrawal of NATO forces from Romania and Bulgaria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Responding to a question about Romania and Bulgaria, the ministry said that Russia wants all foreign troops, weapons and military equipment to be withdrawn from these countries.
“One of the basic elements of our initiatives is especially clear and does not allow for other interpretations. These are the withdrawal of foreign forces, equipment and weapons, as well as other steps to return to the configuration that was in 1997 on the territory of countries that were not members of NATO at that time. These include Bulgaria and Romania, “he said.
Moscow’s announcement comes just two days after US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned a possible consolidation of NATO’s presence in Romania.
It should be noted that Moscow had implicitly mentioned its desire for NATO not to deploy additional troops and weapons in the countries that joined NATO after 1997, Romania being targeted. The claim is part of a long list of proposals made by Russia, NATO and the USA.
The meeting has begun
Antony Blinken and Sergei Lavrov started talks on Friday around 12 noon (Romanian time) aimed at finding a solution to the crisis on the Ukrainian border.
Will they succeed in easing the crisis? The chances seem minimal. The US Secretary of State stated in an interview with the German station ZDF that he does not expect major results, writes the Russian agency Tass.
“I do not anticipate a solution,” he said, answering a question about the possible outcome of the negotiations. Blinken said in Kiev on Wednesday that he would not provide any written response to Russia’s security assurances at a meeting with his Russian counterpart. That is exactly what Moscow had asked for.
The US Secretary of State stressed that certain Russian demands are “clearly, absolutely, doomed to failure”, such as the commitment that NATO should never expand into Ukraine. Instead of countering proposals in last week’s talks, “we have expressed our concern about Russia’s challenges to the security of the European space,” the US diplomat added. During last week’s talks in Geneva, Washington called on Moscow to work together on a gun control case.
Source From: Libertatea