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Ukraine: Moscow doubts the usefulness of new talks with the West

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Diplomacy is at a standstill, according to Moscow. While Russian troops are massed on the Ukrainian border, the Kremlin’s Foreign Ministry sees no immediate use for a new round of talks with the West. Deep differences over Russian security requirements.

“Without clarifying whether there are (…) reserves of flexibility on the other side on important issues, there is no reason to come to the table (negotiations) in the coming days. , meet again and start the same discussions again,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in an interview with Russian channel RTVi.

This declaration comes against the background of a meeting in Vienna of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the third and last sequence of an intense diplomatic ballet aimed at defusing the risk of a conflict in Ukraine.

The OSCE wants to “rebuild trust and cooperation”

“It is imperative to find, through diplomatic channels, a way to stem the escalation and begin to rebuild trust, transparency and co-operation,” said OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, referring to “an urgent need” in the face of “an unpredictable environment. The OSCE, a multilateral platform for East-West discussions stemming from the Cold War, “is a unique place for that”, she insisted. “Each of the 57 member states has a seat around the table”.

The international organization is also responsible for monitoring compliance with the Minsk peace accords in the rebellious eastern part of Ukraine. “However, the surveillance missions have so far detected nothing abnormal on the territory”, but at the border, “it is impossible for us to know what is happening”, according to the American ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter.

These troop movements “are part of the pressure” exerted by Moscow to obtain satisfaction of its demands, but there is “no question of negotiating under pressure”, said Thursday the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Russia’s “Three Key Demands”

On Monday, Sergei Ryabkov had tense discussions in Geneva with his American counterpart Wendy Sherman. On Wednesday, NATO and Moscow held talks in Brussels, at the end of which they noted their deep “differences” on security in Europe.

Russia, which assures that it has no “intention” to attack Ukraine, is calling for the signing of treaties banning any future enlargement of NATO, the non-deployment of offensive weapons near Russia and the drastic reduction Western military cooperation and maneuvers in Eastern Europe.

“These three demands are key,” said the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov on the Russian channel Pervyi Kanal. According to him, the Westerners have promised written answers next week.

Sanctions against Putin

On Wednesday, a draft of sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the event of aggression by Ukraine was presented to the United States, an initiative which “would cross a limit” according to the Kremlin.

“It would be tantamount to a severance of relations,” said Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, noting that the US Democratic senators’ proposal “does not facilitate the establishment of a constructive atmosphere for the talks.” -westerners in progress.

“Russia has never bent under the weight of sanctions,” Sergei Ryabkov insisted on Thursday.

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