Tough talks between the two major powers

The US – Russia talks on security, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, ended after nearly eight hours of negotiations, with the expected results.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (right) and the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the Russia-US security talks in Geneva (Switzerland), January 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (right) and the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the Russia-US security talks in Geneva (Switzerland), January 10, 2022. (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Despite no breakthrough, the US’s great importance to Moscow’s proposals on security guarantees and Washington’s suggestions on bilateral measures to improve the situation, is a positive move to "relieve" tensions between the two great powers.

The Russia-US closed-door meeting was held at the US Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. The Russian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Alexander Fomin. Meanwhile, heading the US delegation was Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. The security talks took place within the framework of the strategic stability dialogue, between the two great powers. This was considered a forum for Washington and Moscow to directly address security concerns and possible solutions.

Following the meetings in July and September 2021, this was the third talks of security, but the first among three meetings between Russian officials with the US, as well as the European allies and partners in Europe. Following the talks in Geneva, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived in Brussels, Belgium, to brief NATO allies about the bilateral talks with Russia. This took place before the NATO-Russia Council meeting on January 12, and the forum of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria.

The talks focused on Russia’s proposals to NATO and the US, especially in terms of no intermediate or short-range missiles, no extension of NATO's eastward and reduction of military exercises. The US and Russian leaders both agreed that it was time to start negotiations to make progress on the issues related to strategic weapons, NATO-Russia relations and security in Europe, which are of major concern to Ukraine. Although, emphasising that the negotiations with the US on security were difficult, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made positive comments. The Russians said the two did “not trust the other side”, the talks were “very professional” and the US took Russian proposals very seriously.

Meanwhile, the White House said that the Russia-US talks took place in an open and sincere manner. According to Sherman, the American side had frank and forthright discussions with Russia and is open to meet again soon, to discuss bilateral issues in more detail. They discussed measures to reduce tensions related to missile deployments and troop exercises, proposed by Moscow in their security guarantees. The US announced its readiness to discuss the future of certain missile systems in Europe along the lines of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that President Donald Trump was referring to.

Even so, the two sides continued to not give in on a number of issues. Russia said they did not see “an understanding from the American side of the necessity of a decision” and Moscow will make decisions about whether it would make sense to continue the negotiations with Washington after the upcoming meetings with NATO. Right before the talks, Russia warned that the US and NATO could face a worsening situation in their own security, if they focus on dialogue of security commitments. According to Deputy Minister Ryabkov, there was a basis for agreements between Russia and the United States, but Washington should not underestimate the risks.

The US also reiterated that the US and its allies were prepared to address any "legitimate concerns" related to Ukraine, including financial sanctions and export controls targeting industrial sectors as well as strengthening NATO's position on the allies’ territory and providing Ukraine with security assistance. The US also said it has no intention of starting discussions with Russia about the limitations of NATO membership as this has always been one of the basic principles of the alliance.

With many deep differences and disagreements, the issues which have been being discussed between Russia and the US will not be addressed soon. Facing many thorny issues in Russia-US relations, the two sides should make concessions on strategic stability and security in Europe. However, the arduous negotiation process for security, notably the high-level dialogues between the two powers, was considered a right step in efforts to reduce tensions and contribute to maintaining peace and security.

Translated by NDO