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‘Disappointed’ by US signals, Russia rules out concessions in talks over Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (File photo by AFP)

Russia’s deputy foreign minister says Moscow is "disappointed" by signals from Washington and Brussels demanding unilateral concessions from the Russian side ahead of talks intended to ease tensions over Ukraine.

Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by Russia’s Interfax and RIA news agencies as making the remark on Sunday, the day before negotiations in Geneva on a wide-ranging new security arrangement that Moscow is seeking with the West over NATO’s eastward expansion.

"We are disappointed with the signals coming in the last few days from Washington but also from Brussels," Ryabkov said. "We will not agree to any concession. That is completely excluded.”

The high-level discussions between US and Russian diplomats are to resume on Monday after a weeks-long standoff over Russian troop deployments near its border with Ukraine.

Western governments accuse Russia of planning “an invasion” of Ukraine. Moscow has rejected the allegations and insisted that the border deployments are defensive in nature.

The Russian government has repeatedly reiterated that the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine is a red line for Moscow and that any future expansion must exclude Ukraine and other former Soviet countries.

Last month, the Russian government made demands on NATO and Ukraine about the future of their relationship, calling on the Western military alliance to deny Ukraine membership to NATO and to roll back its military deployments.

Moscow also proposed that the US not establish any military bases in former Soviet states that are not part of NATO, nor develop a bilateral military alliance with them.

NATO, however, strongly rejected the proposals, stressing that the alliance will not abandon its basic principle of freedom for countries to join military blocs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned that Moscow will act if the US-led NATO military alliance crosses its red lines in Ukraine.

Washington and its allies have been harping on about, what they claim is, Moscow's ill-intentioned plans for Ukraine since 2014, when a wave of protests overthrew Ukraine's democratically-elected pro-Moscow government and replaced it with a Western-leaning administration.

A crisis followed after the majority of people in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to accept the new changes and took up arms against Ukrainian troops.

Kiev and the Western countries accuse Moscow of having a hand in the crisis. Moscow denies the allegations.


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