U.S. sends diplomats as Russia builds up forces on Ukrainian border

U.S. and Russian officials met in Geneva on Monday to begin talks related to the increased Russian military presence on the Ukrainian border (https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-europe-russia-ukraine-geneva-090d1bd24f7ced8ab84907a9ed031878). U.S. deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are meeting as a continuation of talks between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin that began back in June. As it currently stands, Russia has 100,000+ troops waiting on the Ukrainian border with the potential for more if deemed necessary. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “It’s very hard to see that happening when there’s an ongoing escalation, when Russia has a gun to the head of Ukraine with 100,000 troops near its borders, the possibility of doubling that on very short order.”

The U.S. has expressed that its primary concern is Ukraine’s sovereignty and the safety of other surrounding European nations. Russia has three clear demands:

  1. NATO cannot expand any further East

  2. No more missiles on the Russian border

  3. No more NATO military exercises, intelligence operations, or infrastructure outside of the original 1997 border

Russia is also opposed to Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO. Neither country can do so yet, but future involvement could escalate the situation.

While these meetings may not accomplish much in terms of short term solutions, both sides hope to deescalate the situation and forge a clear path forward. Russia will meet with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will meet on Thursday in Vienna.

Russia has been in conflict with Ukraine since 2014. On February 20, 2014 Russia annexed Crimea, sending in military forces over the border during the ensuing months. Russia finally withdrew in December of that year. Additional conflicts occurred in 2016 and 2018. The most recent escalation began last Fall when Ukraine conducted military exercises with NATO forces and U.S. warships were deployed to the Black Sea.

Will these ongoing talks ultimately make long term progress or is conflict between Russia and Ukraine inevitable? Is there a way to appease both sides, or will one ultimately win out?

Image Credit: Denis Balibouse/Pool via AP

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