(Trends Wide) — Critical talks between US and Russian representatives in Geneva ended at 4:32 pm local time on Monday, a State Department spokesman said.
U.S. and Russian officials have held crucial talks on a troop buildup on Ukraine’s border as fears mount over a possible Russian invasion.
The “Strategic Stability Dialogue” talks began Monday morning in Geneva, Switzerland, a US State Department spokesman said.
The meeting follows months of tension on the Ukraine-Russia border.
“The United States is committed to the principle of ‘nothing about you, without you’ when it comes to the security of our European allies and partners, including Ukraine,” the spokesman said. “We are engaged at every level with our allies and partners, and we will continue to be in the days and weeks ahead.”
Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer told Trends Wide’s Jim Sciutto on Monday that he doesn’t see “a situation where the United States walks away” from talks with Russia, even if Kremlin officials take positions during the discussions. this week that are considered non-essential by the United States.
“Russia has raised positions that are not fundamental and has said other things that we think may present some areas where we can work to make progress, and we’re going to find that out over the course of this week,” Finer said.
The Russian demands, made public a few weeks before the talks, include that NATO not expand further east and a pledge never to admit Ukraine as a new member.
Asked whether success requires Russia to withdraw its forces from the Ukraine border, Finer said he would not “set the bar on the negotiating team while the talks are still going on.”
“This is the first opportunity we’ve had at a high level to explore and better understand what Russia’s position is, what its intentions are, to better understand where we’re coming from,” he said.
The world community will closely monitor the discussions, which were heralded as a belated attempt to prevent a war on Europe’s eastern flank. On Wednesday, a Russian delegation will meet with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels.
But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already downplayed prospects for a breakthrough. “It’s hard to see real progress, rather than talk, in an atmosphere of escalation with a gun to Ukraine’s head. So if we’re really going to move forward, we’re going to have to see de-escalation, Russia moving away from the threat currently represents for Ukraine,” Blinken said on Trends Wide’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.