The Kremlin said Tuesday it saw “no significant reason for optimism” after the highly anticipated Russia-U.S. talks over Ukraine and other security issues.
The talks aimed at defusing tensions over Ukraine took place in Geneva on Monday and offered no sign of immediate progress. Moscow went in insisting on guarantees to halt NATO’s eastward expansion and even roll back the military alliance’s deployments in Eastern Europe — demands that Washington had earlier firmly rejected as a nonstarter.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday the manner in which the talks were held — “open, comprehensive and direct” — “deserves a positive assessment,” but it’s the result that matters. “So far, let’s say, we see no significant reason for optimism,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
“There are still several rounds (of talks) ahead of us, which will allow us to work out a clearer understanding, a clearer picture of where we stand with the Americans. For now, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions, unfortunately,” the spokesman added.
Last month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have refused to provide such pledges, but said they are ready for the talks.
The demands, contained in a proposed Russia-U.S. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO, were drafted amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has stoked fears of a possible invasion. Russia has denied it has plans to attack its neighbor but pressed for legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and weapons deployment there.
After the Russia-U.S. meeting in Geneva on Monday, Moscow and NATO representatives are expected to meet on Wednesday. Russia is also meeting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe this week, which includes the United States.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian state TV on Tuesday that that the diplomatic work continues and there is no “reason for concern.”
“The work continues, it will continue tomorrow, we’re focused on achieving results both in the form of the very process of talks and the agreements, which we informed about in advance in terms of laying out our position. I don’t see a reason for concern,” Zakharova said.