Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 10 January 2022
Russia-West Talks: Brokering An Unlikely Deal
What Western and Russian officials say just before a round of talks in Geneva, Brussels, and Vienna highlights the firm positions of the two sides. The talks seem unlikely to bring a breakthrough so Russia is likely to push on Ukraine every harder than now. The latest statements by the Russian deputy foreign minister show that Moscow is ready for the fiasco and is thus upping the ante beforehand.
As neither side is expecting breakthroughs just before the talks, why are they taking part in them? On January 10, delegations from the United States and Russia will meet in Geneva while the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled for January 12. The OSCE talks will take place in Vienna on January 13. U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken said he did not expect any breakthroughs that week. The top U.S. diplomat added that upcoming talks with Russia would not succeed so long as there was a gun to Ukraine’s head. For his part, Sergey Lavrov told journalists Russia would not make concessions under U.S. pressure and warned that this week’s talks on the Ukraine crisis might end early. Ahead of the talks in Geneva, Sergei Ryabkov, who is the deputy foreign minister, laid out Russia’s three demands: no further NATO expansion, no missiles on Russia’s borders, and for NATO no longer to have military exercises, intelligence operations, or infrastructure outside of its 1997 borders. However, U.S. and NATO’s stances, the latter outlined on January 7 by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, show that Western nations can bring on the table such issues as reducing the number of armaments and military drills by both sides. The West seems to be slowing everything down to prolong the talks and thus postpone the Russian threat against Ukraine. The question is whether Russia will fall for this trick. The Kremlin can orchestrate an attack while its pompous demands are nothing but an excuse for war when both the United States and NATO dismiss them all. Meanwhile, late January offers the best weather conditions for any military operation in this part of Europe so Moscow has some time to force Western countries into a set of concessions. Yet will it respond forcefully if the West refuses to make concessions? It might happen, albeit on a limited scale.
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