The United States and Russia are meeting from this Sunday evening in Geneva to try to defuse the explosive crisis that is playing out around Ukraine and to discuss the thorny issue of security in Europe.
The diplomatic week promises to be busy. After a first discussion this Sunday, the Russians and Americans will hold their main meeting on Monday. The talks will continue with a NATO-Russia meeting Wednesday in Brussels and a meeting Thursday in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Americans, Russians and European countries.
The West and the Ukraine accuse the Russians of having massed nearly 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border in preparation for a potential invasion, and have threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with “massive” and unprecedented sanctions if he attacks the Russian Federation. neighboring country as in 2014. Measures which could go as far as cutting Russia off from the cogs of global finance or preventing the entry into service of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline dear to the Kremlin.
Putin makes his demands
President Putin, who has met twice with his American counterpart Joe Biden since the start of this new crisis, warned that new sanctions would be a “colossal mistake”, and in turn threatened with a response ” military and technical “in case” of maintaining the very clearly aggressive line “of its rivals.
The Russian leader wants to return the West to its responsibilities and is also making its demands. The Kremlin says in fact that the Western countries, led by the United States, provoke Russia by stationing soldiers at its gates or by arming Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting pro-Russian separatists in Donbass, in eastern Ukraine. He therefore calls for a treaty which definitively excludes Ukraine’s entry into NATO and acts as a withdrawal of American soldiers present in the Baltic countries or in Poland.
But the Americans claim that they are not ready to reduce their troops in Europe and threaten on the contrary to reinforce them if the Russians go on the offensive. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday described Moscow’s demands as “unacceptable”. The head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken speaks to him of a “strategy” aiming to “present a list of absolutely inadmissible demands and then claim that the other side is not playing the game and use that as a justification for an aggression” .
Antony Blinken assures us that a “diplomatic solution” is “still possible” but considers that it is “very difficult to make real progress” with “a gun to the head of Ukraine”.
Faced with the Kremlin, which seems to want to favor the Russian-American tête-à-tête, Paris, Berlin and even Brussels are demanding a real place at the negotiating table. A test for the United States, which, despite the promises of consultation, scalded its European allies by giving the impression of going it alone on the Afghan or Chinese issues. Wanting to be reassuring, Antony Blinken promises that “there will be nothing in Europe without Europe”.