Russia wants sure US guarantees during the Geneva talks, and the West is coordinating to deter it from attacking Ukraine
Moscow said on Thursday it would seek assured security guarantees from Washington on Ukraine and the eastern expansion of NATO during upcoming talks in Geneva, while Western countries coordinated to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that her country will ask the United States, in the talks scheduled to take place on January 10 in Geneva, for stable legal security guarantees, especially to stop NATO’s expansion to the east, and not to deploy weapons that threaten the Russian borders, noting that Sergey Ryabkov, deputy The Russian Foreign Minister and US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will head the delegations of the two countries.
Zakharova added that the discussions include discussing the two basic security agreements that Russia presented to the United States and NATO to conclude, noting that a meeting will be held on January 12 between Russia and NATO, and the next day consultations will take place between Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Earlier, a spokesman for the US National Security Council said that Ukraine’s interests will not be ignored in any agreement that may be reached during talks with Russia.
For his part, Ryabkov stressed that he does not expect to reach an agreement in one day during the upcoming talks with the US side in Geneva.
Recently, with the escalation of tension due to the Russian military movements on the borders of Ukraine, Moscow has demanded security guarantees, and has repeatedly stated that the inclusion of Ukraine in NATO is a red line for it, and vowed the West a harsh response if Russia is subjected to any aggression.
Russia has already submitted to the United States and NATO proposals for the security guarantees it requests, including not agreeing to the accession of Ukraine and the Baltic states to NATO, and reducing the alliance’s military deployment in Central and Eastern Europe.
But the United States and its allies refused to give any guarantees to Russia, stressing in return their willingness to hold talks.
Kiev and Western countries have accused Russia of having deployed up to 100,000 soldiers on the borders of Ukraine in the past few weeks in preparation for attacking it, which Moscow denied.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday that during a call with her US counterparts, she discussed France and Germany deterring Russia from launching an attack on Ukraine.
The US State Department said that the foreign ministers of the four countries confirmed, during the call, which took place yesterday evening, that there is a consensus among allies and partners to impose harsh measures against Russia, reiterating their firm support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Today, Thursday, US President Joe Biden is scheduled to make his second call in less than a month with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss several issues, including the upcoming diplomatic efforts with Moscow, according to a White House announcement.
Ukraine is supposed to top the issues that the two leaders will discuss, and Biden had promised Moscow harsh sanctions if it attacked Ukraine.
In Moscow – and hours before the expected video call with his American counterpart – the Russian President said that he is convinced of the possibility of establishing a useful dialogue with the United States based on mutual respect and taking into account the national interests of both countries.
And the US National Security Council said in a statement yesterday, Wednesday, that the Biden administration continues its intensive diplomatic efforts with allies and European partners to find a common approach to respond to the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border.
Meanwhile, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine will hold a meeting today, Thursday, headed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss developments in the security and military situation on the border with Russia.
The meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, but Zelensky asked to postpone it to Thursday in order to expand the list of topics on the discussion agenda.
The Ukrainian president said that he agreed with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, during a call between them yesterday, Wednesday, to continue consultations to coordinate diplomatic positions and efforts to achieve peace in the east of the country.
Kiev said that the Russian side rejected an offer to hold an extraordinary meeting of the tripartite contact group to discuss the situation in the Donbass region, which has been witnessing since 2014, a conflict of Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.
On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that there are plans to conduct joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus on the territory of the latter between February and March of next year, saying that it is in the interest of both countries.
Putin’s statements came at the start of talks he held with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg that focused on cooperation between the two countries within the framework of the integration plan between Moscow and Minsk, in addition to the situation in the region.