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Russia downplays Ukraine invasion, but U.S. makes no concessions

Discussions over the specter of a Russian navy incursion and calls for for an array of safety concessions by the West will proceed on Wednesday in Brussels at NATO headquarters, and on Thursday in Vienna at a gathering of the Group for Safety and Cooperation in Europe.

The spotlight from the primary spherical of deliberations Monday, nonetheless, was Ryabkov’s insistence that Russia was not making ready any imminent transfer towards Ukraine, which it invaded in 2014 earlier than annexing Crimea, and the place it has backed an armed separatist rebellion within the jap area of Donbas that continues right this moment.

“We defined to our counterparts that there have been no plans or intentions to assault, quote-unquote, Ukraine,” Ryabkov instructed reporters. “We don’t have it, and we are able to’t have it.… There may be no single cause to be afraid of any escalation, to be afraid of any escalatory situation on this regard.”

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But as regards to a possible NATO enlargement, Ryabkov was uncompromising, requesting “ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding ensures” that Ukraine and Georgia “won’t ever ever” turn into members of the navy alliance.

“This is among the areas the place now we have the best distinction of views with the U.S.,” Ryabkov stated, including of the Russian place: “That will be a welcome change for the higher within the place of NATO. We’re fed up with the unfastened discuss, half-promises, misinterpretations of what occurred … behind closed doorways. We don’t belief the opposite aspect.”

Ryabkov’s information convention, which ran roughly twice so long as his U.S. counterpart’s, featured some trademark Russian spin and anti-Western grievances. For instance, he insisted that missteps by america in its safety relations had repeatedly endangered Washington’s European allies. He additionally accused america of bailing out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty — an settlement that Washington stated it deserted reluctantly solely after repeated violations by Moscow.

At one level, Ryabkov received into testy banter with Ilya Arkhipov, a reporter who covers the Kremlin for Bloomberg Information. The deputy international minister first accused Bloomberg of attempting to extend inventory buying and selling, and when Arkhipov pushed again and stated that Bloomberg experiences information of curiosity to buyers, Ryabkov complained of alleged bias. “Bloomberg is broadcasting an American stance,” he stated, including that the company misrepresents Russia’s positions. “You recognize, Roquefort cheese — to make issues slightly bit stinkier? That’s what Bloomberg does.”

In her personal name with reporters, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman described a “frank and forthright dialogue” with Ryabkov. The U.S. delegation arrived on the talks with “quite a lot of concepts [of] the place our two international locations may take reciprocal actions that will be in our safety curiosity and enhance strategic stability,” Sherman stated.

Particularly, the “preliminary concepts” raised by america included “missile placements,” Sherman stated, and the U.S. delegation “made clear that america is open to discussing the way forward for sure missile methods in Europe alongside the strains of the now-defunct INF Treaty” — which former President Donald Trump withdrew america from in 2019.

“We shared that we’re additionally open to discussing methods we are able to set reciprocal limits on the dimensions and scope of navy workouts, and to enhance transparency about these workouts, once more, on a reciprocal foundation,” Sherman stated.

POLITICO and different media shops reported over the weekend that america was keen to debate the location of missiles in Ukraine and the scope of regional navy workouts when the U.S. and Russian delegations met Monday in Geneva.

Nevertheless, Sherman stated the U.S. delegation was “agency” in “pushing again on safety proposals which are merely non-starters to america” — together with Russia’s demand that the North Atlantic Treaty Group formally bar Ukraine from entry into the navy alliance.

“We won’t permit anybody to slam closed NATO’s open door coverage, which has at all times been central to the NATO alliance,” Sherman stated. “We won’t forgo bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that want to work with america. And we won’t make selections about Ukraine with out Ukraine, about Europe with out Europe, or about NATO with out NATO.”

Alexander Ward contributed to this report.

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