(FreedomBeacon.com)- A series of talks between US, NATO, and Russian officials are underway this week as tensions continue over Ukraine.
On Monday, officials from the US and Russia held bilateral talks as part of the previously agreed Strategic Security Dialogue that President Biden and Russian President Putin announced during their Geneva summit in June of 2021.
The US and Russian delegations, headed up by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, discussed arms control and continued nuclear deterrence, as well as the current tensions along the Ukraine/Russian border.
Both sides described Monday’s meeting as professional and candid, but ultimately inconclusive.
After Monday’s talks, Sergei Ryabkov denied that Russia had any plans to invade Ukraine. However, he also warned that if the West would not agree to pull back NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe and reject Ukraine’s request for NATO membership, there would be consequences that would place the security of Europe at risk.
On Wednesday, Russia and NATO began talks in Brussels where Ukraine will no doubt be on the agenda. But Russia and NATO both have concerns that extend far beyond Ukraine.
Russia has long maintained that it wants guarantees that NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe will stop and Russia be allowed to control the foreign policy choices of former Soviet states like Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Ukraine, whose future hangs in the balance, is not involved in Wednesday’s talk. However, talks will continue on Thursday in Vienna during the regularly scheduled session of the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of which Ukraine is a part.
Thursday’s meeting is between ambassadors rather than foreign ministers and top government officials. But the group would be instrumental should Russia decide to pursue its aims in Ukraine diplomatically rather than militarily.
But it remains unclear if Russia will choose the diplomatic route and no decisions on Ukraine are expected to come out of these meetings.
Any such decision would require serious negotiations that could take months. However, both the US and NATO have said they will only negotiate with Russia if the Kremlin de-escalates and redeploys the thousands of Russian troops currently amassed on the border with Ukraine.