WASHINGTON: A senior White House official said Saturday that the US is prepared to discuss the two countries’ missile systems and military exercises in discussions that could start as early as Sunday in Geneva.
Diplomats from the United States and Russia are meeting in Switzerland to attempt to ease tensions after Washington and Europe accused Moscow of planning a military invasion of Ukraine.
“There are some areas… where we think it would be possible to make progress,” the official said on a conference call, adding that any commitments must be “reciprocal.”
“Russia has expressed concern about the possibility of offensive missile systems being deployed in Ukraine… That is not something the United States intends to undertake. So, if Russia is willing to make a reciprocal commitment, this is one area where we might be able to reach an agreement “added the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
“We’re open to discussing the future of certain missile systems in Europe,” the person said, adding that Moscow “has also shown an interest in discussing the future of certain missile systems in Europe, along the lines of the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty).”
Finally, according to the source, Washington was willing to discuss the prospect of reciprocal constraints on the scale and breadth of military exercises undertaken by Russia, the US, and NATO.
“We won’t know whether Russia is prepared to negotiate seriously and in good faith until we get to these conversations starting tomorrow night,” the official warned, adding that the Russians and Americans would likely have a “initial conversation” on Sunday night before holding their “main meeting” on Monday.
“We’re going into these conversations with a sense of reality, not optimism,” the source added, implying that they will be “exploratory” rather than conclusive.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, even while the talks are still ongoing, Russian media started to report that the US has made a slew of concessions to Russia. This is a calculated attempt to divide allies, in part by influencing each of you “On the conference call, the official informed reporters.