Americans, Russians start crucial Ukraine talks

Talks under high tension between the Russians and the Americans began Monday in Geneva, amid fears of an invasion of Ukraine by Moscow which calls for a limitation of Western influence at its borders.

This meeting, which began at the American representation in the Swiss city, is being held between the deputy foreign ministers of the two countries – Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Minister Sergei Riabkov, a spokesperson said. from the US State Department.

This is the third time that Wendy Sherman and Sergei Riabkov have met in Geneva since the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden in June 2021 on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Wendy Sherman and Sergei Riabkov met for the first time on July 28 at the Permanent Representation of the United States, before meeting again on September 30 at the Russian Representation.

This third meeting launches an intense diplomatic week, in particular to try to defuse the explosive crisis that is playing out around Ukraine.

Washington warned of a risk of “confrontation”

“The discussion was complicated, it could not be simple,” said Sergei Riabkov, quoted by the Interfax agency, after a two-hour working dinner Sunday evening in Geneva with Wendy Sherman. Press conferences are scheduled for the end of the afternoon.

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The United States and Russia have taken a firm position ahead of these negotiations. Washington has warned of a risk of “confrontation” and Moscow has ruled out any concessions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to avoid further “Ukrainian aggression” and choose the diplomatic route, while the Kremlin, under pressure to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border, calls on the West guarantees on security in Europe, including that NATO will not extend further east.

Russia threatened with “massive” sanctions

In addition to the American-Russian discussions in Switzerland on Monday, a NATO-Russia meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels, then a meeting on Thursday in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to include the Europeans, who fear to be marginalized.

The West and Kiev accuse the Russians of having massed nearly 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border with a view to a potential invasion, and have threatened Vladimir Poutine with “massive” and unprecedented sanctions if he attacks Ukraine again.

These sanctions could go as far as cutting Russia off from the cogs of global finance or preventing the entry into service of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline dear to the Kremlin.

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