Top officials of the United States and Russia began the special talks that are expected to defuse the military hostility in Ukraine. However, due to high tensions and low trust, the discussions have produced no breakthrough yet.
The high-stakes meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, is a part of the European discussions on arms control and other significant issues that were kicked off by US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2021.
During the talks, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the negotiations for the United States while Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov served as Moscow's lead negotiator.
Difficult talks between Washington, Kremlin begin this week
Ryabkov has expected that discussions in the Geneva summit will be "difficult" as Russia attempted to negotiate guarantees that NATO will stop its eastward expansion to the former Soviet states like Ukraine, according to a report by the Associated Press.
However, the US downplayed Russia's concern as it goes against the national security arrangements of countries.
According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Sherman has emphasized the United State's commitment to international principles of "territorial integrity, and freedom of sovereign nation to choose their alliances" during dinner on Sunday. In the past, Ukraine expressed its intention to join NATO.
US officials have also expressed their openness to the possibility of future deployments of offensive missiles in Ukraine and limiting American and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe. The condition: Russia must withdraw from Ukraine.
US negotiators are expected to put Russia's real intent to the test during discussions during the Strategic Security Dialogue discussions, according to Al Jazeera. One analyst said that the best hope is that the two parties will be able to express their concerns and search for "possible common ground."
Blinken sees no significant results from US, Russia talks
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken does not expect any breakthroughs from the talks this week. Instead, he sees positive development in agreeing to de-escalate tensions for a while, then resumes discussions in the future. But the United States must see tensions go down to determine progress, as per CNBC.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg believes that the Geneva talks may not produce the expected resolutions, but it could start a journey to prevent conflicts.
"It is possible to make deals with Russia," Stoltenberg told the media members at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The Geneva talks will be followed by Russia-Nato negotiations in Brussels on Wednesday and a meeting Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.
In recent months, Russia has been intensifying its military presence at its border with Ukraine. The move has led to concerns about the Kremlin's planned invasion of oil-rich Ukraine. However, Russie denied such claims, saying it had the power to position troops within its territory.
In December, Putin and Biden have engaged in discussions to assure that Ukraine's desire to join NATO will be rejected as Russia sees the expansion of the western military coalition as a security threat. However, Biden did not give such assurance.