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The press conference held by the Russian negotiator after the talks with the United States in Geneva clearly showed the demands that Russia is not willing to back down under any circumstances. The demands are difficult for the USA to digest. By Thomas Roper

As expected, talks between Russia and the United States on mutual security guarantees have not yielded any tangible results. But the press conference held by the head of the Russian delegation, Ryakov, clearly showed the issues on which Russia is not willing to negotiate and expects steps from the United States.

When asked, he reiterated this, adding that Russia cannot retreat any further, even if it wants to. Russia has already retreated to the wall, it cannot go any further.

Here I will from his Press conference after the talks in Geneva translate and show what his words mean and how to assess them. Before we get to that, I want to briefly remind you what the talks in Geneva are about.

Russia’s proposals

Put simply, Russia has the following for the USA suggestions made:

  • No NATO military maneuvers near the Russian border, no Russian military maneuvers near the borders of NATO countries
  • No stationing of medium-range missiles capable of nuclear weapons in Europe, including in the European part of Russia
  • No stationing of nuclear weapons outside of one’s own country (which would also mean withdrawing American nuclear weapons from Europe)
  • Do not allow bombers to patrol so close to each other’s borders that an attack would be possible
  • Don’t get warships so close to each other’s borders that they could attack them with missiles
  • Return to the NATO-Russia Founding Act, which prohibits permanent stationing of NATO troops in Eastern Europe

The Russian press conference after the talks in Geneva has now shown on which of these points Russia is willing to negotiate and on which not, i.e. where it is willing to make concessions to the USA and where it expects concessions from the USA. I will therefore translate the opening words of the Russian negotiator Ryakov and then analyze what that means translated into “normal” German.

The press conference

Start of translation:

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The interview was difficult, long, very professional, in-depth, concrete, with no attempts to sugarcoat or sidestep difficult issues. We got the impression that the American side is very serious about the Russian proposals and has studied them in depth.

For our part, we presented the Americans with the most detailed form of the logic and content of our proposals, explained to them why the legal guarantee that there will be no further NATO enlargement is an absolute imperative, why it is essential for us to have a legal one to get a guarantee that no corresponding American attack systems capable of destroying targets on our territory will be stationed on the Russian borders and why we raise the question that NATO, by and large, should refrain from material appropriation of the territories created after 1997 joined NATO, i.e. in the period since the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act.(NATO prepares for war with Russia and keeps the propaganda going)

We have made it very clear that work on all other issues, important as they may be, is in jeopardy without progress on the three key non-negotiable issues that we absolutely need.(Pure panic in NATO: Russia cannot be tamed!)

Of course, it came as no surprise to us that US officials, in the spirit of the well-known statements of the past few days and months, have accused us of a concentration of troops on the border with Ukraine. Certain threats, at least warnings, were addressed to us.

We have told colleagues that we have and cannot have any plans to attack Ukraine – in quotation marks – and that all activities to keep our armed forces combat-ready take place on our own territory and that there is no reason to escalate in this regard feared scenario.

We also talked today about how we can move forward on the issue of arms control. The US and Russian delegations to the talks on security guarantees included high-ranking representatives of the military and other ministries, including those working in the already established format of the dialogue on strategic stability.

We consider the events that took place last night and today to be exceptional urgent meetings of this format. However, I must add that the work on security guarantees overlaps only in some respects with the work we are doing with the US in the area of ​​strategic stability.

So there wasn’t much time to discuss what will happen after the NEW START treaty expires in just over four years, what issues need to be dealt with, what exactly the working groups should do, which are part of strategic stability were created. All of this has been addressed, but has by far not taken the most important place.

We have concluded the one-and-a-half-day talks and we state, I would even venture to say, we state together that we will only be able to discuss the further steps and future perspectives of all this work after the results of the events that are still to come, namely the event in Brussels on January 12, when we meet with NATO in a collective format, and the OSCE Permanent Council meeting the next day, January 13, will judge and make appropriate decisions.

After that, it will become clearer whether we will propose to our managers to take further steps in this process, and if so, in what format. Or we may have a situation in which we find with regret – in this case with regret, of course – that NATO prefers to reject our initiative. Then the situation will be different.

We call on the United States of America to exercise maximum responsibility in this situation. The risks associated with a further intensification of the confrontation cannot be overestimated.

The businesslike and constructive conversation itself gives a more optimistic impression, but even so, as I said, the main issues are hanging in the air and we don’t get the impression that the Americans have understood the importance of the imperative, a decision that we are satisfied with in this one direction to fall.

end of translation

What that means

Ryakov first publicly stated which issues are non-negotiable for Russia and on which issues it is ready to negotiate. He mentioned three points as non-negotiable:

  1. No further enlargement of NATO
  2. No stationing of intermediate-range nuclear-capable missiles near the Russian border
  3. Return to the NATO-Russia Founding Act, which prohibits permanent stationing of NATO troops in Eastern Europe

This is tough stuff for the USA, because in practice it means above all that NATO – and thus the USA – would have to withdraw their troops from the countries that joined NATO after 1997. Since NATO violated the corresponding ban of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and has already stationed thousands of soldiers in the countries mentioned, this demand is politically very difficult to implement in the USA, where people are not used to making compromises and concessions .

However, Russia says that this point is non-negotiable and that cooperation on all other common issues is in jeopardy if there is no agreement on this. So Russia is bringing out very heavy artillery, because if this is meant seriously, it would mean an end to all talks between the US and Russia. According to Ryakov, Russia would even reject US consent to negotiations about not stationing new medium-range missiles in Europe as long as no agreement is reached on the core issues.

Russia has obviously lost patience, because during the press conference, Western journalists then asked Ryakov about the situation with Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, and he replied that Russia had no choice but to train and conduct maneuvers there while US bombers simulate launching cruise missiles at Russian targets over the Black Sea just 15 kilometers from the Russian border.

The USA has cornered Russia so much by bringing troops, ships and bombers to the Russian border that Russia now feels it has no choice but to make maximum demands and make all other issues dependent on their fulfillment. And Ryakov has also announced his own reactions to a failure of the talks, although we can only guess what it is about.

However, we can assume that Putin explained these reactions in the call with President Biden in early December, because after the call the US was suddenly ready for the talks that have now started.

Whether the US is in a quandary, and if so how big it is, is anyone’s guess.

The NEW START treaty

For the sake of completeness, I would like to touch on the talks on strategic stability mentioned by Ryakov. This is about the future of the NEW START treaty. The treaty regulates the maximum number of deployable strategic nuclear weapons of the two superpowers. It would have expired in early 2021 because Trump did not want to extend it, but Biden wanted it. Therefore, after Biden took office, the contract became immediately before its expiration extended by five years. There is a clause in the contract that allows for a one-time extension of five years.

Since then, Russia and the US have been negotiating a follow-up treaty, and as we can hear between the lines here, there hasn’t been any progress until the working groups have even been formed. Since Russia has an advantage over the US in the field of strategic nuclear weapons after the introduction of hypersonic missiles, the US should be very interested in a successor treaty.

However, Russia itself does not seem to want to talk about it any more if the USA does not make any concessions on the question of NATO expansion and the question of the withdrawal from Eastern Europe.

The NEW START treaty is the last remaining nuclear disarmament treaty between Russia and the US, as the US unilaterally terminated all other such treaties, details of the treaties you’ll find here. So far, Russia has called for these treaties to be revived, but apparently Russia’s priorities have changed and now Russia wants NATO withdrawn from its borders before it is willing to talk about anything else.

We will soon find out whether the US is signaling that it will take action, because Ryakov said – and repeated this several times in the press conference – that whether or not there will be further talks depends on the course of further talks this week. So if no further talks take place or are at least planned in the next few weeks, the next level of escalation between Russia and the USA is likely to have occurred.

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Sources: PublicDomain/anti-spiegel.ru am 11.01.2022

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