Now the world is waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
After the third day of diplomatic meetings – this time in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – Western and Russian diplomats said they remain deeply divided over conflicting security interests, and warned of the risk of ongoing military conflict.
While the United States and its NATO allies urged more meetings, Russian officials refused to commit, indicating serious doubts that further discussions would yield any progress. Ultimately, the decision on how to proceed is up to Putin, who has ominously warned against military action if Russia’s security demands – including its insistence on NATO withdrawing its forces from Eastern Europe – are not met to his satisfaction.
“We are facing a crisis in European security,” the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, said at a news conference following Thursday’s talks. “The drums of war are getting louder and the rhetoric is getting rather sharp. There are approximately 100,000 soldiers on the Russian side of its border with Ukraine. Their presence and the live-fire measures being implemented raise many questions about Moscow’s intentions.”
Thursday’s session in Vienna follows a meeting on Wednesday between Russia and the 30 NATO member states at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, and the first day of bilateral talks between Russia and the United States on Monday in Geneva.
But even when Carpenter said the West was urging Moscow to return to the negotiating table, he reiterated the West’s unwillingness to consider some of Russia’s basic demands. In addition to the troop withdrawal, the demands include a strict guarantee that Ukraine and Georgia will never join NATO.
“We have to be clear that we won’t have spheres of influence,” Carpenter said. We will not consider the limitations on the right of states to choose their alliances; We will not have the preference for the security requirements of one country over another. Truth be told, only one OSCE country has invaded two of its neighbors and stationed forces on the territory of other countries against its will, and that is Russia.”
At a press briefing in Washington, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “We are ready to continue diplomacy to enhance security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. We are equally prepared if Russia chooses a different path.” “The risk of a military invasion is certainly high,” he added.
Russia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Alexander Lukashevich, described today’s discussions as “really disappointing.”
“We have not received any adequate response to our proposals,” Lukashevich said at his press conference. During his briefing, Lukashevich reiterated Russia’s insistence that it had promised that NATO would not expand east of Germany, and that Western powers had broken that promise.
“Of course, there will be a comprehensive report to the President of the Russian Federation, and we will assess readiness to take further steps,” Lukashevich said. “It’s hard to say what will be done and when it will be done at this point.”