Diplomats from the United States and Russia started summit talks on Monday to prevent Ukraine’s crisis from escalating. Deputy ministers from the two countries met at the American mission in Geneva, Switzerland, in the morning.
Tensions between Moscow and the West have risen as Russia has gathered a large force on the border with Ukraine, with which it has had tense relations for years. There are fears that the Russians are considering invading the Eastern European country in western capitals.
Russia feels threatened by NATO expansion. Many former Soviet states in Eastern Europe have already joined. Moscow is now demanding security guarantees, such as a promise that neighbouring Ukraine will never join the alliance. The Ukrainian government would like to become a member.
Deputy ministers Sergei Ryabkov from Russia and Wendy Sherman from the US have already spoken for about two hours on Sunday evening. Ryabkov acknowledged afterwards that it was not an easy conversation. Before the meeting, he had already said that he was “disappointed” about the signals coming from Washington and Brussels.
Not only Ryabkov was pessimistic. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on Sunday that he did not expect any breakthroughs this week. The US has already made it clear that Russia could face severe sanctions if it decides to invade.
The tension had already led to comparisons with the Cold War when Moscow and Washington were also diametrically opposed. Several consultation rounds about the crisis will follow in the coming days. Russia is in talks this week with the US, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).