Below is the US State Dept. press briefing following the bilateral meeting in Geneva between the US and Russia. The main takeaways are 1) US proposed possibility of agreement regarding limits on placement of missiles in Europe similar to INF Treaty between US and Russia (this would be consistent with Russia’s report of Putin’s phone call with Biden on December 7, 2021 in which it was asserted by Putin’s adviser Yuri Ushakov that “Biden made it clear that the US does not intend to deploy offensive strike weapons in Ukraine.”,** 2) US reiterated its position that agreement to not expand NATO membership further is a “non-starter,” and 3) further discussions are expected later this week between the two countries regarding moving forward with more bilateral diplomacy.
**Shoutout to Ray McGovern for discussing this in a recent interview with Regis Tremblay and an article.
Members of the Defense Department also were present at the talks between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov which lasted for about 8 hours. The Pentagon also held a shorter press briefing that partially addressed the bilateral meeting and related issues.
Below is the press briefing by Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov and Russia’s permanent representative to the UN office Gennady Gatilov. The discussions were described as “difficult” and “detailed.” It was explained that Russia will have a better understanding of progress on their concerns after the NATO-Russia Council meeting to be held in Brussels on January 12th and the meeting between Russia and the OSCE on the 13th. “The key issues are still pending and we do not see that there is understanding from the American side of how imperative these matters need to be resolved in the key that will make us happy.”
With respect to US’s position that agreement to not expand NATO any further is a non-starter: “It goes to show they underestimate the seriousness of the matter and that’s bad.” Ryabkov later made the following comment regarding Ukraine and Georgia in NATO in response to a reporter’s question: “We are fed up with loose talk, half-promises, misinterpretations. We need ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees – not assurances – guarantees with all the words ‘shall’, ‘must’….It’s a matter of Russia’s national security.”