Before bilateral negotiations with Moscow this Monday in Geneva, the US side dampened expectations. “There will be no firm commitments in these talks, which will be serious and concrete, but exploratory,” said a US government official on Saturday in a phone call with journalists. All issues would then be examined in Washington and discussed with allies during the week. The government official said he would not be surprised if the Russian side spread false reports about US concessions in order to “divide the allies.”
The meeting takes place against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis. The US government official said the delegations would likely meet for a preliminary talk on Sunday evening after arriving in Geneva. The actual talks between the USA and Russia in the Swiss city would take place on Monday. The US delegation is headed by Vice Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, while Moscow represents Vice Minister Sergei Ryabkov. A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council is scheduled for January 12 in Brussels – the first in two and a half years. Thereafter there will be talks in Vienna on January 13th within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Russia has gathered around 100,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine. The Moscow government rejects allegations that it is preparing an invasion. Instead, they want to make it clear that Russia will not accept NATO’s further eastward expansion. The US government official said it was not up to Moscow to decide which countries other states would enter into alliances with. “In connection with NATO, we call this an open door, and neither Russia nor any other country will slam it.”
At least talks about limiting certain military activities in Eastern Europe are conceivable. The high-ranking staff member of US President Joe Biden said that a mutual limitation of military exercises and the stationing of missiles in the region could be discussed.