The US and Russia met on Monday in Geneva to discuss the Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border and fears that it might invade Ukraine. The discussions are led by US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Ryabkov, who earlier met Sherman informally in the Swiss capital, said that the US’ response was ‘businesslike’ and ‘difficult’, according to a report by news agencies Interfax and AFP.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula earlier in 2014 and continues to back pro-Russian separatists in the region which has grown more restive over the past few years. The clashes between the parties have taken the lives of more than 14,000 people in the last seven years.
The lawmakers will also discuss Russia’s demand not to include Ukraine and Georgia – former members of the Soviet Union – in NATO. Russia also drafted a proposal where it has asked NATO to not include these nations or any other nation which was a member of the Soviet Union. Russia will meet NATO officials in Brussels later and will also meet the officials of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) later this week.
Moscow’s amassing of troops has sparked concerns in Kyiv but Russia has denied that it has any such plans. The US president Joe Biden warned Russian president Vladimir Putin, last year when both spoke over the telephone, that Russia will face ‘harsh consequences’ if it plans to invade Ukraine. The US also made it clear that if Russia stands down from its constructive posture and goes for a diplomatic solution then the outcomes could be different. Russia maintains that the US and the West deceived it as NATO included three Baltic nations which were part of the Soviet Republic as well as most nations which were signatories in the Warsaw Pact.
Ryabkov dismissed any such notion as he maintained that Russia ruled out the possibility of making any concessions and will press forward with its demands. The US has threatened Russia with cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany and severing the nation’s link with the world’s banking system.