Just a day ahead of the much anticipated Russia-US-NATO Monday talks to be held in Geneva, Washington is already signaling it doesn’t expect any breakthroughs. This as the Biden administration continues piling on threats and leverage for its corner, over the weekend ramping up rhetoric on the ‘option’ of imposing strict export controls on Russia.
Such controls would involve curbs on sensitive technology and electronics, according to Reuters, in the scenario of Putin ordering an offensive into Ukraine. This would include, according to an official who spoke to Reuters, “measures to deprive Russia of microelectronics made with or based on U.S. software or technology.”
Prior anti-Russia sanctions have up to this point only focused on individuals and government-linked entities, for example officials believed responsible for the persecution of Alexei Navalny, or firms working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The talks will kick off in Geneva, but are expected to then move on to venues in Brussels and Vienna; however, there’s current speculation on whether they’ll even be extended beyond a day or two, as Reuters notes, “state-owned RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying it was entirely possible that diplomacy could end abruptly after a single meeting.”
“I can’t rule out anything, this is an entirely possible scenario and the Americans… should have no illusions about this,” Ryabkov told the outlet. The Kremlin’s firm and consistent position has been that it must gain legal guarantees from the West of “no further NATO expansion eastward”. But a fresh report on Sunday strongly suggest both sides are willing to walk away:
“Naturally, we will not make any concessions under pressure” or amid constant threats from participants in the talks, said Ryabkov, who will lead the Russian delegation in Geneva. Moscow was not optimistic going into the talks, Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.
The U.S. prognosis was similarly gloomy. “I don’t think we’re going to see any breakthroughs in the coming week,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a CNN interview.
So it’s looking like both sides are ready for talks to fail, at a moment the situation on the ground has grown more complicated, especially with the fresh “distraction” of a severe security crisis on Russia’s long border: Kazakhstan.