For the third time in the last month, delegates from the United States and Russia met to discuss the security demands Russia announced last month. The first two meetings were between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Monday’s meeting was between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.
“The deputy secretary stressed the United States’ commitment to the international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement following the meeting. “The Deputy Secretary underscored that discussion of certain subjects would be reserved for the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Brussels on Jan. 12 and the [Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe] Permanent Council meeting in Vienna on Jan. 13.”
No major breakthrough was immediately reported following the meeting. Leaving the meeting, Ryabkov said the two “plunged into the substance of the forthcoming issues.” He predicted the other two talks upcoming this week “are going to be difficult.”
“They cannot be easy. They will be business-like. I think we won’t waste our time tomorrow,” Ryabkov said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed a similarly dim prediction in a television interview over the weekend.
“I don’t think we going to see any breakthroughs,” Blinken said. “It’s very hard to see that happening when there’s an ongoing escalation,” referencing the thousands of Russian troops currently stationed at the country’s border with Ukraine.
One of Russia’s security demands for NATO was to ban Ukraine from ever becoming a member.
“If Russia commits renewed aggression against Ukraine, I think it’s a very fair prospect that NATO will reinforce its positions along its eastern flank, the countries that border Russia,” Blinken said in the interview.
Another one of Russia’s security demands was rolling back NATO’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.