Russians were outraged this fall when the United States and allied NATO forces held exercises in the Black Sea, off the coasts of Ukraine and Russia.
Understand Russia’s relationship with the West
Tension between the regions is growing, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly willing to take geopolitical risks and assert his demands.
Privately, US officials have little hope that Putin will be satisfied with the deals that restore the status quo of a few years ago. And his concern is that the Russians will come out of the Geneva and other talks this week in Brussels and Vienna, declaring that diplomacy has failed and that Putin will try to take over more of eastern Ukraine or carry out cyber or other attacks. to paralyze the government of Kiev.
Understanding the escalation of tensions over Ukraine
Still, Blinken’s statements seemed intended to create an opening, leaving the possibility of moving some heavy weapons out of Poland, or limiting the scope of military exercises in Europe, in exchange for reciprocal actions by Russia, which would presumably have That would include withdrawing troops back from the Ukrainian border.
Russia is seeking what it calls “security guarantees” from the United States and the NATO alliance that would essentially give the country the kind of sphere of influence it has not enjoyed for more than 30 years, including Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries in the east. . Europe. The Kremlin has been backing those demands by massing tens of thousands of troops and equipment near its border with Ukraine, indicating that it is prepared to use force if diplomacy fails.
While Mr. Blinken tried to focus the discussion on military and missile base exercises in the region, Ryabkov said Russia’s goals in the talks would go far beyond arms control issues. The signals sent by US officials before the talks, he said, “reflect a lack of understanding of what we need,” according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Mr. Ryabkov said that Russia will seek to review the relationship with the West that was established with the 1997 NATO-Russia Foundation Act. That agreement was followed by countries from the former Soviet sphere of influence that joined the Western alliance, and many in Moscow they see it as having ignored Russia’s security interests in Europe.
“We need to ensure the reduction of destructive NATO activities that have taken place for decades and bring NATO back to positions that are essentially equivalent to what was the case in 1997,” Ryabkov said, according to the Interfax news agency. . “But it is precisely on these issues that we least hear the willingness of the US side and NATO to reach an agreement.”