There has been no breakthrough in the US-Russian talks aimed at easing tensions between Moscow and Ukraine.
Diplomats from the Kremlin and Washington have met in the Swiss city of Geneva over concerns that President Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade the former Soviet bloc country.
Russia wants a ban on any further NATO expansion, including a pledge that Ukraine will not be admitted, and an end to the alliance’s activities in the Central and Eastern European countries that have joined it after 1997.
Live updates as Russia issues warning after US talks
“Opposing views on what needs to be done”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who represented his country at the talks, later said: “Unfortunately, we have a big disparity in our principled approaches to this issue.
“The United States and Russia in some ways have opposing views on what needs to be done.”
But US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said, “We have been firm…
“We will not allow anyone to close NATO’s open door policy, which has always been at the heart of the NATO alliance.
“We will not give up bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States, and we will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, Europe without Europe or NATO without NATO. “
Analysis by Mark Stone, American correspondent
At the end of the day, so often it’s all about the language. Successful diplomacy relies on meticulously crafted, often intentionally ambiguous language that enables both sides to claim victory.
For the time being, the unenviable diplomats sent to Geneva on behalf of their leaders in Washington DC and Moscow have failed to find language for a breakthrough.
Read in their words today whatever you like. Russia called the talks “complex and very professional.” The Americans called themselves “frank and straightforward.”
The Russian diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister, said there was “no need to fear escalation”. It sounded positive – a Russian invasion of Ukraine off the table?
Barely 100,000 troops remain on the Russian side of this icy border with Ukraine. They will be there, Russia says, until America and the West agree on the demands that Mr. Putin must know are unworkable.
If America, as the main partner of the NATO alliance, were to respond to the Russian demand that Ukraine never join NATO or that no NATO troops be stationed in the new NATO member countries, wouldn’t that make the NATO alliance useless?
But then, what is the interest of the alliance if Russia ventures into Ukraine without being challenged?
In this high-stakes game, perhaps for good measure, both sides felt the need to officially stress that they both agree that a nuclear war can never be won. and should never be conducted. It’s good that they agree on that; but perhaps alarming that they even need to clarify the point.
Washington and Kiev have said 100,000 Russian troops are within striking range of Ukraine and that a new invasion could be launched soon, eight years after Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula.
Russia denies the invasion plans but has blamed NATO for what it says is aggressive behavior.
Despite the lack of progress on Monday, both sides appeared polite to each other, with Ms. Sherman calling the discussion “frank and straightforward.”
Ryabkov said it was “difficult but professional” and that the United States had taken the Russian proposals seriously.
He said Russia would decide its next move after meetings with NATO members in Brussels on Wednesday and with officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna on Thursday.
“It’s time to call Putin’s bluff”
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Sky News: “If (Russian President Vladimir Putin) is to invade Ukraine, we should provide military aid to Ukraine to return Ukraine more able to defend themselves.
“I think he’s bluffing in a way, and now is the time to call his bluff.”
“A lesson learned from history is that appeasement with dictators does not lead to peace,” he added.
“It leads to war or conflict.
“Putin is very good at playing a weak hand with force.
“I hope the West is just as adept at playing our hand much stronger, better than in the past.”