The White House said on Monday that the US and Russia have launched “clear and clear” discussions aimed at easing tensions between the two powers as Russian President Vladimir Putin is deploying an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “At this point, Russia has two paths, which is to take President Putin.” “He can take the diplomacy route. There are two more rounds of talks this week. We have seen him as a package of three, which I think he has also reiterated on his side. Or is there a way forward. We are certainly hopeful, that the path of diplomacy is the path they will take.”
Biden is asking Putin to order the troops back to the barracks. The White House has said in several recent statements that the US will give a decisive response if Russia attacks Ukraine further.
“We explained to our allies that we have no plans, no intentions to ‘attack’ Ukraine,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters after talks ended on Monday. “There is no reason to fear any increase in this regard.”
The Kremlin is concerned about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s expansion to the east. The Collective Security Coalition was established to counter the former Soviet Union. Ukraine, a former Soviet state, is seeking to join NATO over Moscow’s opposition. Putin says building an existing army is necessary for self-defense against an aggressive West, and he does not plan to attack.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday, “We have not seen any major changes in force posture by the Russians in the border areas around Ukraine. There remains a large element. … if about Russian de-escalating.” If serious, they can begin to remove some of those soldiers, reducing some of that force’s posture.”
Diplomats from the United States and Russia met in Geneva on Monday. Putin and US President Joe Biden spoke twice on the phone in December about the situation in Ukraine; Neither are participating directly in this week’s conversation.
Monday’s discussion is the first of three rounds of talks planned for this week that will bring the US and Russia to the negotiating table. The other two visits will include the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels on Wednesday and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday in Vienna.
In Monday’s bilateral talks, the two sides “discussed reciprocal action that would be in our security interest and prove strategic stability,” said the top US diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. This includes potential limits – on both sides – on the size and scope of future military exercises in the region.
Sherman noted that the two countries did not discuss the political unrest in Kazakhstan, where recent fuel price demonstrations grew into major protests against the pro-Russian authoritarian regime.
He said the US stood firm on some issues, including against Russia’s demand that Ukraine be stripped of NATO membership.
“We will not allow anyone to shut down NATO’s open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance. We will not give up bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that want to work with the United States. and We will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, Europe without Europe, or NATO without NATO,” Sherman said.
Russia’s Ryabkov said, “Unfortunately there is a great disparity in our theoretical view on this. The US and Russia have in some ways opposite views on what needs to be done.”
Sherman further explained that “if Russia further invades Ukraine, there will be significant costs and consequences far greater than what happened in 2014. We are very prepared and aligned with our partners and allies to incur those serious costs.” “
She said those costs could include sanctions against major financial institutions, export controls, increased NATO presence in the allied region and more security aid to Ukraine.
Ahead of Monday’s US-Russia session, top diplomats from the two countries expressed little optimism that tensions between these two longtime rivals would ease in a week of discussions.
“It’s hard to see that we’re going to make any progress with a gun to Ukraine’s head,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN’s State of the Union show.
Russia denies plans to invade Ukraine and calls for an end to NATO expansion and a halt to coalition military exercises in Central and Eastern European countries that have joined it since 1997.
Psaki said Washington expects Moscow to promote its own narrative outside of the talks.
“We are preparing ourselves for possibility and possibility – no one should be surprised, I must say – if Russia spreads propaganda about commitments that have not been made, or if it goes further and further.” The instability of the activity provokes some,” he said. “And so we will continue to urge everyone not to fall into any attempt to weed out misinformation.”
VOA’s Nike Ching and Carla Babb contributed to this report. This report includes material from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.