“There are topics that the parties need to discuss face to face”
A round of talks on security guarantees between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken ended in Geneva. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. First, the diplomats delivered opening speeches, after which the consultations continued in a format closed to the media. The political scientist spoke about the meaning and goals of the negotiations.
Russian-American consultations on security guarantees at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva began with a friendly handshake of the heads of delegations. On the eve of the meeting, both heads of diplomatic departments said that no breakthroughs were expected from the negotiations.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the discussion of the situation around Ukraine the main goal of the meeting. The diplomat promised that in the course of his conversations with Minister Lavrov, issues of concern to Russia would be raised.
At a press conference following the Geneva talks, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry commented on the fact that the meeting lasted only an hour and a half, emphasizing : “We did not need to reproduce everything that was said at the Russian-American talks here in Geneva on January 10 and at the talks in the Russia-NATO Council on January 12.”
According to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian side heard the repetition of arguments about the freedom to choose alliances, military alliances, and, in turn, cited a number of documents in which this freedom to choose alliances is due to the need to avoid any steps that strengthen the security of one state at the expense of the security of others. .
The Russian Foreign Minister said that Washington promised to send a written response to Moscow's proposals for security guarantees next week, noting that the United States and some member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance are “poor” in keeping promises.
“Meeting we had an intermediate one,” the diplomat added. “And Anthony Blinken told me that he was satisfied with the exchange of views that took place, which will help them next week (this has already been emphasized several times) to provide us with a written response.”
This is already the third meeting of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry with the US Secretary of State. The first took place in May in Reykjavik on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministerial meeting. The second one took place in Stockholm in December at the OSCE ministerial meeting.
“The purpose of this meeting, so to speak, is to “align the clock,” comments MK Vice-President of the Center for Political Technologies, Professor of the Higher School of Economics Alexey Makarkin. – Neither Moscow nor Washington had any high expectations from the negotiations. There is also no opportunity for mutual understanding on key issues. However, apparently, topics have appeared that the parties still need to discuss face to face.
The second point is related to what will happen next with the negotiation process and how both sides see it. Russia has already said that it expects written responses from the US to its security proposals. The Americans are making it clear that at least they don't want to rush into it.”
According to the expert, it is important to understand how the future policy of the Russian Federation in Ukraine will be built. The Americans, judging by the press conference of President Joe Biden, held on the occasion of the anniversary of his stay in the White House, have no clear opinion on this matter.
“The United States would like to see what the United States is capable of in this matter. Russia, – the political scientist continues. – If, for example, Washington decides that no concessions are expected for the Russian Federation upon the admission of Ukraine to NATO, what will Moscow do? Will he defiantly slam the door or not?
Moreover, now different and sometimes even ambiguous signals are coming from Moscow. The other day, Vladimir Putin was offered to recognize the self-proclaimed LPR and DPR. Such a draft appeal to the president was submitted to the lower house of parliament by the Communist Party faction. United Russia is still silent. On the one hand, it seems to be necessary to admit, but on the other hand, this is suggested by the opposition.
What will happen to other topics is also not clear yet. Last year, heads of state agreed on cybersecurity. Now this issue has faded into the background, because both sides are actively discussing Ukraine. And suddenly it turns out that in Moscow, at the request of the United States, eight possible members of the REvil hacker group, accused of a large-scale cyber attack on American companies, are being arrested. Here Russia makes it clear that it is ready to cooperate with Washington on the topic of computer security and share its concerns. It remains only to follow the development of the situation.”
This meeting was initiated by the Americans in order to at least partially clarify key issues, the expert concluded. There was no a priori to expect any big breakthrough from her.