U.S.-Russia Meets Ukraine Tensions in Geneva

U.S.-Russia Meets Ukraine Tensions in Geneva

This week is an important week in deciding to resolve the issue of tension in Ukraine. The United States (US) and Russia will hold a three-stage meeting to discuss the tensions.

On January 10, 2022, the US and Russia will meet in the first phase in Geneva. But at the meeting, there was no significant progress in diplomatic efforts.

The Russian delegation, which demanded that NATO not accept Ukraine as a member, was rejected by the US delegation. Even so, the US is said to be conducting additional negotiations with Russia.

The second and third stage of the meeting will involve Russia with NATO and Russia with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

1. No progress in US-Russian diplomacy in Geneva

Russia, which has amassed about 100,000 troops near Ukraine's eastern border, has raised fears it could spark a major war. The US as a partner of Ukraine, threatened to impose severe sanctions on Russia if it invaded Ukraine.

Russia denies having any invasion plans. Russia just wants to get long-term security guarantees under the law, against the security threats posed by the US and its NATO allies.

Moscow's security guarantee proposal was presented to the US in mid-December 2021. This week, the proposal will be discussed in three stages of meeting. On Monday (10/1/22), the US delegation met with the Russian delegation in Geneva in the first phase of the meeting.

Reported by Al Jazeera, the diplomacy began shortly before 08:00 local time. The talks between the two countries' representatives lasted nearly eight hours. But in that time, there was no significant progress to agree.

The head of the Russian delegation was Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and the US was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman.

Ryabkov said "unfortunately we have big differences in our principled approach to this. The US and Russia in some ways have opposing views on what needs to be done."

In the meeting, neither side said that it was a meeting that ended in failure. But neither side has offered the option of easing the worrying stalemate over the buildup of Russian troops, which the West sees as a fundamental threat to European security.

2. The US cannot make a decision on the acceptance of new NATO members

One of Russia's main demands to the US in its security guarantee proposal is that NATO does not accept Ukraine as a member. This includes several other former Soviet states, namely Georgia.

For Moscow, Ukraine or Georgia are red lines that the US should not cross. But President Biden rejected the red line claim.

Russia's concern if Ukraine becomes a member of NATO is that the north atlantic alliance could place advanced missiles in Ukraine, which directly threatens Moscow's security.

According to the Associated Press, Wendy Sherman, head of the US delegation at the meeting in Geneva, told Russia that "we will not allow anyone to slam NATO's open-door policy, which has always been at the heart of the NATO alliance."

According to him, the US cannot make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, about Europe without Europe or about NATO without NATO. Even though the US is the head of NATO, decisions made must be made with other members.

Sherman called the conversation an "honest and frank discussion" but would not, or could not, show any progress.

3. Russia cannot back down from the three demands in the proposed proposal

There are three main demands the Kremlin put forward in the security guarantee proposal submitted to the US in December last year.

The three demands are, NATO does not expand into eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Georgia, NATO does not place advanced missiles in countries directly bordering Russia and NATO does not mobilize troops in special operations in countries that have just entered the North Atlantic alliance.

Reported by Tass, Sergei Ryabkov said "in our priority scale, the three areas that I have mentioned represent demands that we cannot avoid."

"I am convinced that a balance of common interests that suits all parties, a balance of interests between Russia, on the one hand, and the NATO group, on the other, can be found even in such a disposition," Ryabkov said.

4. Great gift to Russia in US efforts to avoid conflict in Ukraine
The buildup of Russian troops near the east of the Ukrainian border has raised security concerns for Europe. The buildup of troops is feared to trigger a deadly war.

Washington and its European allies have been trying to prevent the Kremlin from launching an invasion of Ukraine by pursuing diplomacy. But the three demands in Russia's security proposal were deemed unrealistic by some US officials.
There are high stakes for such diplomatic talks.

According to the BBC's James Landdale, the Russian demands were designed to be rejected so that they could be used as a pretext for military action. Even other diplomats believe that President Putin aims to blackmail Western alliances that are willing to lay the groundwork for avoiding war.

The US and NATO are likely to reject Russia's demands for a policy of accepting new members. That's because NATO will not allow itself to be dictated by Moscow.

But some US officials have said they are willing to see restrictions on military exercises as well as the deployment of missile deployments in countries bordering Russia.

There is some fear from US allies in Europe. That the current tensions in Ukraine, coupled with diplomatic efforts to prevent Russia from invading, would cost Moscow too big a prize, too high a price for trying to avoid conflict in Ukraine.

Even so, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisted that the North Atlantic alliance was ready if military action was indeed Russia's last resort. NATO is ready to deal with it. But Stoltenberg did not rule out dialogue through diplomacy to prevent this.