Americans ‘underestimate gravity of situation,’ Russia warns after European security talks

Key security issues ‘still pending,’ Moscow’s envoy says after Geneva discussions

While the US delegation came to Europe to “seriously” discuss Moscow’s security proposals, on Monday, they have not shown an understanding of how the key issues need to be resolved, Russia’s top negotiator said afterwards.

The Americans “underestimate the gravity of the situation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters after bilateral with his US counterparts in Geneva. Russia has laid all of its cards on the table in the proposals made public last month, and those represent “demands that we cannot retreat from,” he added.

Ryabkov described the Geneva talks as useful because they discussed the matters previously considered off the table, and said he did not think the situation was hopeless. The greatest difference of views between the US and Russia was on the further expansion of Washington’s NATO military bloc. 

“For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never ever becomes a member of NATO,” Ryabkov said, and Moscow is insisting that the institution amend its policies to reflect this reality.  

“We are fed up with loose talk, half-promises, misinterpretations of what happened in different negotiations behind closed doors,” he said, referring to the State Department’s claims in recent days that NATO and the US never promised Moscow that NATO would not expand to the east.

“We do not trust the other side, so to speak,” Ryabkov said. “It’s over, enough is enough.”

Following Monday’s talks in Geneva, Ryabkov will meet with NATO representatives on Wednesday, and with the OSCE on January 13, after which Moscow will make a decision whether to continue the negotiations further.

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