Thursday

1st Dec 2022

US ready to hold Russia security talks in January

  • Karen Donfried spoke to press after visiting Brussels, Kyiv, and Moscow (Photo: Eric B. Walker)
Listen to article

The US is keen to start security talks with Russia in January, while threatening "immediate" sanctions in the event of a new attack on Ukraine.

"We are ready to move out on these multiple channels, which I mentioned: bilateral engagement, Nato-Russia Council, and the OSCE," Karen Donfried, a senior State Department official, said on Tuesday (21 December) after visiting Brussels, Kyiv, and Moscow.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Nato talks would include all 30 alliance members and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ones would include all 27 EU countries, she noted.

"Let me be clear: There will be no talks on European security without Europe," she said, after Moscow suggested it preferred to talk to Washington only.

"On the bilateral engagement, we will decide on a date together with Russia, and we believe that that will take place in January," she said.

Donfried spoke after Russia recently surged troops toward Ukraine's borders and amped up its aggressive propaganda.

It also called for security talks aimed at forcing Nato to pull out troops and weapons from eastern Europe and revoke promises that Ukraine can one day join the Western alliance.

"We are prepared to discuss those proposals that Russia put on the table. There are some things that we're prepared to work on ... There are other things in those documents that the Russians know will be unacceptable," Donfried said.

"We will not compromise the key principles on which European security is built, including that all countries have the right to decide their own foreign and security policy course free from outside interference," she added.

Donfried spoke to press the same day Russian president Vladimir Putin said in Moscow he had "nowhere to retreat" on Ukraine.

His defence minister, Sergei Shoygu, also claimed US mercenaries were planning to carry out a false-flag chemical weapons attack in east Ukraine.

The increasingly shrill rhetoric made some diplomats think Russia's offer of security talks was a red herring designed to mask its true intentions.

"I don't think they're bluffing anymore. I really think there's going to be a new attack on Ukraine," one EU diplomat said after listening to Putin and Shoygu.

"This [Tuesday's] speech is something different - Putin's list of completely fabricated threats here is truly striking ... and scary. If he's trying to scare us by acting crazy, he's succeeding with me," Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, also said.

But Donfried said Western allies were clear-eyed about the threat.

"There is clarity about what we [the US and EU] will do in the face of Russian aggression, and that we are prepared to move immediately," she said.

"Further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences ... we are poised to move in a dramatic way," she added.

Asked if this could include cutting off Russia from the SWIFT international banking system and shutting down its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany, she said: "There's no sanctions option that's off the table here, and we are talking about things that would have severe consequences for Russia's economy and financial system".

Neither US nor Nato troops would get involved in fighting as Ukraine is not a member of the alliance, they previously said.

But the US has provided Ukraine with $2.5bn (€2.2bn) in "military assistance" since 2014, Donfried noted.

And "as [US] president [Joe] Biden has told president Putin, should Russia further invade Ukraine, we will provide additional defensive materials to the Ukrainians above and beyond that," she said.

Nato seeks Russia meeting in January

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg has sought a meeting of the Nato-Russia council for 12 January, but so far has not received a positive answer from Moscow.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us