Even after negotiations between the USA and Russia, there is no relief in the Ukraine crisis. Washington is now threatening harsh consequences should Russian soldiers cross the border.
After crisis talks between Russia and Western countries, the United States again warned Moscow against a further escalation in the Ukraine conflict. US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Thursday, referring to the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine: “It is certainly the case that the risk of a military invasion is high.” So far, however, the secret services have not come to the conclusion “that the Russians have finally decided to take military action in Ukraine.” Sullivan once again called on Moscow to de-escalate and reduce troops in the region.
The US national security adviser said: “We and our allies are prepared for any eventuality.” This applies both to diplomatic negotiations and in the event that Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks military escalation. “We have made Russia very clear about the costs and consequences of further military action or the destabilization of Ukraine.” Sullivan again threatened Moscow with economic and financial sanctions, export control measures and an armament of Ukraine “if the Russian military crosses the Ukrainian border”.
Representatives of the 30 NATO countries and Russia held talks on Wednesday for the first time in two and a half years – about the Ukraine conflict and security guarantees that Moscow is demanding from the transatlantic military alliance. There was also a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday. A high-level meeting of representatives of Russia and the United States was held in Geneva on Monday.
Russia sees its security threatened by NATO and is therefore demanding an end to NATO’s eastward expansion and, in particular, a renunciation of Ukraine’s membership. The US categorically rejects such a commitment. Western countries, on the other hand, are alarmed about the Russian troop deployment near Ukraine.
Sullivan said, “The talks were frank and direct, they were useful.” The United States would now consult with its allies on how to proceed. There are currently no dates for new talks with Russia. Moscow was disappointed by the negotiations. According to the Interfax agency, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there were no new talks with the United States for the time being.
Despite the lack of results so far, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock advocated continuing talks with Russia. “Even if there have been no real movements at the moment, it is important that we finally return to the dialogue table,” said the Green politician on Thursday at the sidelines of an EU meeting in Brest, France. “The important thing is that we’re sitting at the table, that talks are being held now. Even if it’s tough, we do it with a lot of patience and perseverance.”
Referring to the possible stationing of Russian troops in Cuba and Venezuela, Sullivan said: “If Russia were to move in this direction, we would act decisively.” He did not give details. The government in Moscow had not ruled out such a step if talks on binding security guarantees failed.
It is not yet clear whether there could be compromises. In Brest, Baerbock did not want to comment specifically on the question of whether, in her view, Russia’s demand for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from countries like Germany should be discussed. “Disarmament issues must and should be discussed. But now that we’ve just sat down at the table, I’m not openly commenting on any individual considerations,” she said.
Baerbock wants to travel to Moscow next week and meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov there. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, this will be Lavrov’s first personal meeting with the new German Foreign Minister.
In view of concerns about a Russian attack on Ukraine, the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, also expects support from the German government. However, Germany is reluctant to supply its country with defensive weapons – in his view for fear of further provoking Putin. “This position is difficult to understand,” he said “Bild” (Friday).
Regarding the US-Russia security negotiations in Ukraine without his country’s direct involvement, Klitschko said it was a slap in the face. The US has assured that no decisions about Ukraine will be made in negotiations with Russia without involving the country.