Moscow (AFP) – The Russian government said on Tuesday that the Kremlin did not see “significant cause for optimism” after long-awaited talks between Russia and the United States on Ukraine and other security issues.
Talks to defuse tensions over Ukraine were held in Geneva on Monday and there was no sign of immediate progress. Moscow renewed its demand for guarantees that NATO would halt its expansion to the east, and even reduce its spread of the military alliance in Eastern Europe, demands that Washington flatly rejected as a starting point.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that the “open, comprehensive and direct” manner in which the talks were conducted “deserves a positive evaluation,” but noted that the important thing was the outcome. “At the moment, let’s say, we don’t see significant reason for optimism,” Peskov said on a conference call with the press.
“There are still several rounds (of talks) waiting for us, which will allow us to reach a clearer understanding, a clearer picture of our whereabouts with the Americans. At the moment, unfortunately, it is impossible to draw any conclusions,” the spokesman added.
Last month, Moscow submitted draft security documents calling for NATO to reject membership of Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries and to abolish the alliance’s military deployment in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have refused to make such commitments, although they say they are ready to negotiate.
The demands, contained in a proposed security treaty between Russia and the United States and in a security pact between Moscow and NATO, were drawn up amid rising tensions over the mobilization of Russian forces near Ukraine, raising fears of a possible invasion. Russia denied that it had plans to attack the neighboring country, but insisted on asking for legal guarantees that would rule out the deployment of weapons and NATO expansion in the country.
After Monday’s meeting between Russian and US officials in Geneva, representatives from Moscow and NATO were due to meet this week. Russia has also held scheduled talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States.
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