US Will Make ‘No Firm Commitments’ In Russia Talks This Week, Admin Official Says
Everything discussed at the meeting will also need to be considered by Washington and allies, the official said.
Don’t expect any concrete steps forward when American and Russian officials meet Monday in Geneva.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is expected to talk with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia’s military buildup at the border of Ukraine. Talks with Russia will continue throughout the week, at a NATO-Russia council meeting on Wednesday and through the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday.
A senior administration official told reporters Saturday that officials won’t announce any commitments or agreements immediately after the talks.
“There will be no firm commitments made in these talks, which will be serious and concrete but exploratory in nature,” the official said. “Everything discussed will need to both come back to Washington for consideration and also be taken up with partners and allies later this week.”
Russia has demanded that NATO stop expanding West and reject Ukraine’s bid for membership in the alliance. The senior administration official reiterated President Joe Biden’s position that it is not up for other countries to decide who can work together.
But there are some areas where Russia and the United States may be able to reach agreements. One is agreeing not to base offensive missiles in Ukraine, something Russia wants to prevent and something the administration already has no intention of doing, the official said. Another potential area of cooperation includes restricting the size and scope of exercises both Moscow and Washington can conduct along the NATO border.
Specifically on these issues, the official reiterated that “nothing will be committed to or agreed to that is not done in full consultation, full participation of any country, any of our allies whose security” might be affected.
Thomas Graham, a former senior director for Russia on the NSC, said the “best case” outcome from the talks is that Russia and the United States simply agree to continue talking to resolve their differences over a series of future meetings.
“These are the initial talks between the two countries on a set of issues that are very complex,” said Graham, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s unimaginable that there’s going to be any breakthrough at this point.”