The United States is a country that has always been in constant flux. Every year, some things stay the same while others change drastically: who we elect to represent us, what types of food are consumed on our plates and so on. Our economy is also constantly changing.
On Monday, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with her Russian counterpart Sergei A. Ryabkov at the US Mission in Geneva. Credit… Reuters/Denis Balibouse
GENEVA, Switzerland — With the danger of Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine causing worry across Europe, American and Russian officials met on Monday to attempt to find a diplomatic avenue to reduce tensions and prevent bloodshed.
The formal delegations arrived at the US Mission in Geneva just after 9 a.m. local time, headed by Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei A. Ryabkov and American deputy secretary of diplomacy Wendy Sherman, according to the State Department.
A convoy of black cars and silver minibuses carrying Russian officials had been brought into the enormous American diplomatic enclave on a hill above Lake Geneva only minutes before.
The meetings, which are the first of a series that will take place throughout Europe this week, are focused on the Kremlin’s requests for “security assurances” from Western nations, which it made in a stunning diplomatic push late last year.
The talks on Monday were planned to last most of the day, with separate press briefings by American and Russian officials set for early evening.
In December, Russia released a plan for two agreements with the US and NATO that would reduce Western military action in Ukraine and other areas of Eastern Europe, thus re-establishing a Russian sphere of influence in what was formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Many of the plans looked to be dead on arrival for Western officials, who believe that Cold War-style spheres of influence are a thing of the past and that nations should be entitled to form their own alliances.
However, the West’s attention has been drawn to an alarming Russian military buildup along the country’s border with Ukraine, which experts believe is a precursor to an invasion. As a result, the Biden administration decided to engage with Russia to attempt to establish some common ground.
Ms. Sherman met Mr. Ryabkov for a two-hour dinner meeting at a nondescript residential building on the Geneva lakeside on Sunday evening. The State Department stated in a statement that “the deputy secretary underlined that the United States would welcome meaningful progress via diplomacy.”
Mr. Ryabkov hailed the dinner discussion as “businesslike,” and vowed that Monday’s talks would not be in vain.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, speaking on Sunday talk programs in the United States, said the talks might resurrect the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prohibits the deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe or Russia. The Obama and Trump administrations both accused Moscow of breaking the agreement, and the US withdrew from it in 2019.
Mr. Blinken remarked on ABC’s “This Week” that “there may be grounds for renewing that.”
However, Russia believes that its demands go beyond weapons control and include a complete redrawing of Europe’s security map, which the Kremlin alleges the West imposed on a weak Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed.
President Vladimir V. Putin stated last month that if Russia does not receive what it wants, the Kremlin is willing to use military force to accomplish its goals.