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American experts named options for the development of negotiations between the United States and Russia

Professor Kafruni: a dangerous phase of negotiations between the US and Russia on security begins Russia does not abandon the military scenario for resolving the Ukrainian issue, according to American experts interviewed by RBC. Security Assurance Talks Split, Another Dangerous Phase Ahead ” alt=”American experts named options for the development of negotiations between the United States and Russia” />

Why is the meeting between Lavrov and Blinken in Geneva important

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during A telephone conversation on Tuesday agreed to hold talks on January 21 in Geneva, the US White House said. Prior to that, Blinken will visit Ukraine and Germany. The State Department described such contact as an indicator that “diplomacy may not be dead.”

“We are ready to continue to engage with Russia on security issues in a constructive dialogue based on reciprocity. We will see on Friday, Russia was preparing for the same,— a representative of the State Department told reporters during a telephone briefing (quoted by RIA Novosti). She added that the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine would show the country's readiness for dialogue. The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns about Russia's plans to invade Ukraine, but Moscow has rejected such intentions.

“The fact that the foreign ministers have agreed to continue contacts is certainly a good sign. As long as they talk, the chances of a military solution decrease, or at least not increase. Until today, it was not clear whether the dialogue would continue at all. But to be honest, at the moment I'm not a big optimist. I do not see rapprochement on fundamental issues, but at the same time, the presence of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine is increasing. This suggests that a military solution is on the table and it has not gone away,— Samuel Charap, a senior researcher at the RAND research corporation, told RBC. The expert described the past negotiations with the United States and NATO as “a lot of smoke without fire.” According to Charap, it is not yet clear whether Russia will receive the written response it needs to the requirements for security guarantees. The State Department did not confirm Washington's readiness to provide such a document. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced his intention to respond in writing to the Russian proposals. He said that this would happen in the near future.

How the first consultations went

  • In December, Russia submitted drafts of two documents— agreements with the United States and agreements with NATO. They contained the main demands of Moscow, including the non-expansion of NATO to the East.
  • On January 10, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed them with First Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva.
  • On January 12, a meeting of the Russia— NATO in Brussels. On January 13, the Russian proposals were presented at the OSCE platform.

Following the results of the meetings, Ryabkov said in an interview with RTVI that he sees no reason to hold a new round of negotiations with the United States due to Washington's unwillingness to meet Moscow's basic demands. “The United States and its NATO allies are by no means ready to meet our key demands for non-expansion of NATO, curtailment of the infrastructure of the alliance and its return to the borders of 1997 and, of course, on topics that relate to legally binding guarantees of the non-deployment of relevant systems in the immediate vicinity of our borders”, — said Ryabkov.

Why the first round did not bring progress

The lack of a breakthrough following the talks between Ryabkov and Sherman was expected, Alan Kafruni, professor of international relations at Hamilton College, told RBC. According to him, Russia's main demand to conclude an agreement on non-expansion of NATO and to receive written guarantees that would significantly reduce the alliance's presence in Eastern Europe was initially unacceptable to Washington. There is evidence that by focusing on China, President Biden could acknowledge Russia's concerns and take a conciliatory stance. However, his presidency is too weak, and therefore concessions to Moscow would be blocked by the hawkish foreign policy establishment and the American media, the expert continues. So the Biden administration misjudged that its willingness to discuss arms control, combined with the threat of tough new sanctions, would elicit Russian acquiescence, Kafruni explained.

Negotiations between NATO and Russia or the OSCE also did not lead to any breakthroughs, the expert added. According to him, as a result, the unity of NATO has increased, and the Atlantic ties have strengthened. Kafruni noted that there is “some evidence that France and Germany are seeking to revive the Normandy format” and return to the Minsk agreements. However, Kiev is unlikely to change its intransigent position on the provisions of the agreement without pressure from Washington, which is unlikely at the moment.

“The EU seeks to intervene in the negotiations, but at best it— a marginal player, although Germany could potentially become the “voice of reason”; due to its close ties with Russia in the field of energy, because until now it has forced NATO to limit the supply of weapons to Ukraine, — said Kafruni.

What options are left for Russia and NATO with the USA

Now, according to Kafruni, the second, very dangerous phase is beginning, when the US is preparing a written response to Moscow's demands. “The Biden administration is still unlikely to be ready to make formal commitments, and Russia will not believe informal promises. Meanwhile, discussions continue on the supply of liquefied gas from the United States to Europe, and Ryabkov raised the issue of deploying missiles in Cuba and Venezuela, thereby exposing the hypocrisy of American opposition to “spheres of influence”,— said the interlocutor of RBC.

Director of the Center for Military-Political Analysis at the Hudson Institute, Richard Weitz, in a conversation with RBC, stated that during the negotiations with the United States and NATO there was a sharp split. According to him, Russia took one position, all other participants— another. “At the moment, this is the choice of Moscow— back down and accept the West's offer to focus on arms control and confidence-building measures, or move on to fighting, a defensive build-up, or an attack on Ukraine,” said the expert.

Charap recalled that there is no consensus among NATO members on granting Ukraine membership in the alliance, and, in his opinion, NATO could voice this. “It would be a little tragic and even absurd if it so happened that NATO would not be a direct participant in the war (in Ukraine. — RBC), but this war would be partly driven by a fundamental rejection of, in fact, an honest interpretation of one's own policy,” — he said.

“The solution requires at least formal guarantees of Ukraine's neutrality. Such an arrangement would simply institutionalize the status quo. It is clear that Ukraine and Georgia will not become members of NATO in the foreseeable future; that under no circumstances will NATO intervene in hostilities on the side of Ukraine; that the threat of Kiev's military attack on the Donbass will lead to a repetition of the Georgian scenario; that a full-scale invasion of Ukraine is unlikely, since it could be catastrophic not only for Russia, but for the whole of Europe, — Kafruni said.

According to him, such a decision has enough precedents, including the successful agreement on the neutrality of Austria (from 1955. — RBC), concluded during the Cold War . “Combined with a sincere desire to revive Minsk-2, this could be the basis for a de-escalation, even if significant differences remain. In the absence of such an agreement, further escalation is likely to take place, first in the form of an expansion of Russia's presence in the Donbass, an increase in arms supplies to Kiev, and the imposition of new sanctions that will cause great damage not only to Russia, but to the whole of Europe. concluded Kafruni.

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