The White House confirmed a meeting on security issues with Russian representatives in early January. Russia’s consultations with NATO and the OSCE are also expected.
Representatives of the United States and Russia plan to discuss the conflict in Ukraine, as well as nuclear arms control, on January 10. Then, two days later, negotiations between Russia and NATO are scheduled, and on January 13, consultations between Russia and the OSCE are scheduled. This was reported on Tuesday, December 28, by the AFP and Reuters news agencies, citing a White House representative.
According to Interfax, Russian-American interdepartmental consultations will take place on January 10 in Geneva. This was reported to the agency by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
At the same time, RIA Novosti reports with reference to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov about Moscow’s dissatisfaction with the topics of negotiations voiced from Washington. “As for the bilateral format with the United States, we have officially handed over our proposals on the agenda to the Americans. Now we see references to unnamed representatives of the US administration that they suggest discussing both Ukraine and arms control. What is arms control? This is a sort of abstraction,” Ryabkov said. According to him, “it is necessary to discuss specific projects that Russia has presented”.
Tensions between Russia and the West in connection with the conflict in Ukraine have recently seriously increased. Moscow accuses Washington and Brussels of provoking Kiev to foment a military conflict in the Donbas, where a war has been going on between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army since 2014. The United States and its European allies, in turn, state the massive buildup of Russian troops at the Ukrainian borders and suspect Moscow of preparing an invasion of a neighboring country.
Moscow demands guarantees and threatens with the consequences of refusal
On December 23, at the annual press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an ultimatum, demanded “immediate security guarantees” from Western countries. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry published on its website draft treaties with the United States and NATO, which, in particular, imply not only a refusal to further expand NATO and Ukraine’s accession to its membership, but also a proposal not to deploy additional troops and weapons outside the countries where they used to be in May 1997, that is, before the Eastern European countries joined NATO. The Alliance was also asked to abandon “conducting any military activity on the territory of Ukraine, as well as other states of Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia” and not deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles at positions from which they can hit the territory of Russia.
Moscow demands from Washington not to deploy weapons and military personnel where it will be perceived as a threat to Russia’s national security, to refrain from flying heavy bombers outside its skies and from the presence of warships in areas outside national waters from where targets on the territory of the other side can be hit. In addition, the United States should not deploy nuclear weapons outside its own country, remove the already deployed weapons and eliminate the relevant infrastructure.
At the same time, the Russian president, the Interfax news agency notes, refused to promise anything to NATO in exchange for providing the required guarantees. “Our actions will depend not on the course of negotiations, but on the unconditional provision of Russia’s security, today and for the historical future,” Putin said.
He also warned the United States and NATO against rejecting Moscow’s proposals. On the air of the Rossiya 1 TV channel on December 26, when asked what Russia could do in this case, Putin said: “It depends on the proposals of our military experts.”