The talks came after Russia massed troops near Ukraine's border and demanded that NATO not admit the former Soviet republic or expand further eastward.
After Monday’s discussions, Washington’s Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters: “We were firm ... in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters to the United States,” Poland’s state PAP news agency reported.
The American diplomat added: "We will not forego bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States, and we will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, about Europe without Europe, or about NATO without NATO."
Sherman called the talks “frank” and “forthright,” but added they were of a very preliminary character and therefore could not be termed “negotiations,” PAP reported.
She also said Washington was interested in a potential agreement on intermediate-range nuclear (INF) missiles and in discussing Moscow’s offer to set limits on the size and scope of military drills, the Reuters news agency reported.
At the same time, Sherman declared: “We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO's open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance.”
Meanwhile, her Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov told the media with regard to NATO’s eastern presence: “Unfortunately we have a great disparity in our principled approaches to this. The U.S. and Russia in some ways have opposite views on what needs to be done.”
He stressed that “for us it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”
Sherman urged Russia to ease tensions around Ukraine by withdrawing its troops. She confirmed that in the event of Russian aggression, the United States would slap sanctions on Moscow’s main financial institutions and on its technological exports, among other measures.
Russia denies any plans to attack Ukraine. It says it is responding to aggressive activity from Kyiv and NATO, Reuters reported.
US-Russian diplomacy is set to continue this week, with the next round of talks scheduled for Wednesday, at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, PAP reported.
Source: PAP, Reuters