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Were the talks between the United States and Russia a flop?

from Paolo Valentino

The parties speak of a “dead end”, but the very fact that they had a dialogue is a success

FROM THE CORRESPONDING BERLIN – Mosca will not wait too long for Western counter-proposals to its security demands. At the end of a week of talks between Russia, the United States, NATO and the OSCE, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his government expects a written response by the US and its allies by next week . “Our patience is over, the West has let itself be taken by arrogance and has exacerbated tensions by violating its obligations and common sense”, thundered the head of Moscow diplomacy, again insisting that the decisive guarantee is the definitive renunciation of NATO to expand towards the East, primarily to Ukraine. But Lavrov did not specify what Russia will actually do in the event of a refusal, generally stating that Moscow “will guarantee its security in a credible way”, citing the “technical-military measures” already mentioned by Vladimir Putin.

1 – Did the interviews produce any results?
On a concrete level, no. Americans and Western allies have firmly rejected Russian requests, which in addition to the freeze of NATO, include the reduction of military aid to Kiev and the abandonment of stationing allied troops in the countries bordering Russia. US correspondent Wendy Sherman called them “no beginning”. While his Russian counterpart, Sergey Riabkov, said that the talks have gotten into a “dead end” due to a structural diversity of approach. That is, the positions remain very far away. Yet, if measured on the total lack of communication in recent months and years, the three rounds of meetings must be considered a success for the simple fact that they took place. The United States has reunited the Atlantic front, giving back to NATO its own raison d’être and clearly indicating what is negotiable and what is not. Russia was recognized as a strategic interlocutor for the first time since the end of the Cold War. According to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, “these were frank, direct and useful talks, which gave us and them material to reflect on.”

2 – What happens now?
The United States has leftor the door open to other meetings. However, Ryabkov said he saw no need for new contacts. Indeed, he upped the ante, warning that if tensions with Washington were to rise, Moscow could also allocate “military infrastructure” to Cuba or Venezuela, its clientes in Latin America: “I do not confirm and exclude anything, it depends on the actions of our American partners”. But US Secretary of State Tony Blinken put the ball back in the ca MPO of the Kremlin, asking if Putin “will choose the path of diplomacy and dialogue, or rather if confrontation and aggression will continue”. What Putin will decide is impossible to predict today. Sullivan, however, says that the US and allies are ready for any outcome after the meetings. A proposal from Poland is to intensify the dialogue on security within the OSCE framework, in which all the protagonists, including Ukraine, are represented. But Moscow has not yet given any answers.

3 – Have the risks of war in Ukraine increased or decreased?
The risk of things getting out of hand has increased. According to the US Ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter, “the war drums roll louder and the rhetoric increases.” While the Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau states that “the risk of a war in the OSCE area has never been greater in 30 years”. But on the true intentions of Putin, who amassed 100,000 soldiers on the borders of Ukraine, there is no clarity. Sullivan revealed that, according to intelligence reports, Russia is trying to create the pretext for an invasion through disinformation operations. However, it is not said that you use it. According to another American official, there have been movements of troops in recent days from Siberia to the Ukrainian border, but “not substantial”. The only real thing is that Putin does not hint at easing military pressure on the borders. But this is not enough to push the Administration to launch new preventive sanctions as a deterrent. “It wouldn’t be a productive way to go about it,” said a Blinken co-worker.

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