Russia sees no point in further West talks soon: lead negotiator

Thursday January 13 2022
Russia
By AFP

Russia sees no reason to hold a new round of security talks with the West in the coming days following a lack of progress during ongoing negotiations, a top diplomat said Thursday.

"I do not see reasons to sit down in the coming days, to gather again and start the same discussions," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with the Russian-language channel RTVI.

He accused Western counterparts of lacking any "flexibility" to conduct negotiations over "serious topics".

The United States and its NATO allies held talks this week with Russia in an attempt to ease tensions over Ukraine, where tens of thousands of Russian troops have massed on the border.

Two rounds of talks, in Geneva on Monday and Brussels on Wednesday, did not result in any breakthrough.

For the third round of talks, the world's largest security body, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, is meeting in Vienna on Thursday. Little progress is expected there, too.

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In December, Russia unveiled proposals to contain the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, saying that the US-led alliance should not admit Ukraine or Georgia as new members.

"We propose going through the text article by article" in order to be ready to sign legally binding agreements, Ryabkov said.

"This is impossible today, because on the key elements of these texts, the United States and its allies actually tell us 'no.'"

Ryabkov, who led Russia's talks with US officials in Geneva on Monday, said it was hard to trust NATO countries.

The high-stakes talks come amid fears of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour Ukraine.

On Wednesday, senators from US President Joe Biden's Democratic Party threatened major consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine, including sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and Russian banks as well as $500 million in fresh security aid to Ukraine.

Ryabkov said Russia had adapted to sanctions, first introduced over Moscow's role in Ukraine's crisis in 2014, and would not buckle under pressure.