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Russian Deputy FM Says Geneva Talks Should Be About Ukraine Not Joining NATO

© Sputnik / Mikhail Markiv / Go to the mediabankNational flag of Ukraine and the NATO flag
National flag of Ukraine and the NATO flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.01.2022
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On Sunday evening, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva ahead of the official Russian-US talks on security guarantees.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has told Sputnik that upcoming crunch talks between Russia and the United States on strategic stability in Geneva should generally be about Ukraine’s non-joining NATO.
While Moscow is ready to hear what the United States has to say regarding the non-deployment of missiles on the territory of Ukraine, constructive dialogue is possible only in the broader context of revising the decisions of the Budapest summit on Ukraine's future in NATO, Ryabkov told Sputnik.
"We will listen to what they have to say [at the Geneva talks]. But ... this needs to be put into a broader context: are they ready to ensure that the decision of the 2008 ... [NATO] summit is withdrawn, are they ready to give legal guarantees that this country, as well as other countries — a well-known list exists — that they will not join NATO? This is an open question," said the Russian Deputy FM.
Earlier in the month, Washington indicated that it was prepared to discuss with Moscow certain aspects of Russia's proposals on security guarantees, including the non-deployment of missiles on the territory of Ukraine.
The Russian senior diplomat, who arrived in Geneva on Sunday for the upcoming Russia-US, Russia-NATO and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe talks this week, emphasized that without revising NATO decisions on Ukraine, a productive dialogue would be impossible. The Russian Deputy FM underscored that the US and NATO could face a worse situation for their own security if they failed to show interest in a dialogue with Russia on security guarantees.
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Sergei Ryabkov deplored the fact that Washington wants to resume the work of the NATO-Russia Council on conditions that are unacceptable for Moscow.
"They want to restore the activities of the NATO-Russia Council, but on their own terms, on the agenda that suits them, with an emphasis on the so-called deescalation, the so-called 'Russian aggression' in Ukraine," Ryabkov said.
On Sunday evening, Ryabkov met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva for a conversation that the deputy foreign minister summed up as difficult, but businesslike.
"The conversation was difficult, but businesslike. We went straight to the matter of the upcoming talks. I think that tomorrow we will not waste time. I never lose my optimism, I am always guided by it," the diplomat said.
Mid-December, Russia released its draft proposals on security guarantees between Russia, the US and NATO.
The proposed agreement between Russia and the US calls on both countries not to deploy forces and missiles in areas where they might be perceived as a threat to one another's national security, limits the deployment of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, and urges a halt to NATO's eastward expansion.
The second proposal, between Russia and NATO, similarly proposes a halt in the Western bloc's expansion. Furthermore, it contains an explicit request that Ukraine not be allowed to join the alliance. It also sets limits on the deployment of weapons and troops by NATO members to the alliance's eastern frontiers, except in exceptional circumstances and with Russia's agreement. The latter draft proposal also calls for an explicit affirmation by both sides that they do not consider one another as adversaries.
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The tensions between Moscow and Kiev previously resulted in media reports claiming that Russia was planning to "invade" Ukraine, which the Kremlin denounced as "alarmism". The Kremlin reiterated that it can relocate its troops within its own territory, while NATO's military activity near the country's borders poses a threat to its security.
The official Russian-US talks on security guarantees scheduled for 10 January are to be followed by a Russia-NATO Council meeting to discuss the issue on 12 January, and the summit of Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the following day.
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