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The Geneva Talks: The US-Russia Conflict

  • IASbaba
  • January 17, 2022
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INTERNATIONAL/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: International Politics

The Geneva Talks: The US-Russia Conflict

Context: The Geneva talks that was held recently between the United States and Russia were inconclusive. 

What is the issue?

  • USA and Ukraine say 100,000 Russian troops moved to within striking distance of Ukraine could be preparing a new invasion, eight years after Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from its neighbour.
  • Russia denies any such plans and says it is responding to what it calls aggressive behaviour from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Ukraine, which has tilted toward the West and aspires to join the alliance.
  • The build-up of troops near Ukraine, has raised U.S.-Russia tensions to their highest levels since the end of the Cold War.

What is Russia’s major concern?

  • The source of Russia’s staunch opposition to NATO is its deep insecurity. 
  • After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, a substantially weakened Russian Federation saw NATO’s continued expansion into Eastern Europe as a violation of the post-Cold War consensus.
  • Russia responded militarily in 2008 when Georgia was considering joining NATO, and in 2014, it took Crimea from Ukraine after the pro-Russian regime in Ukraine was toppled by protests. 
  • Russia has demanded the U.S.-led NATO alliance rule out admitting the Ukraine or expanding further into what Russia sees as its own back yard.
  • On the other side, the West sees Russia as an aggressive, abrasive and destabilising giant that breathes down the neck of Europe
  • Both NATO’s expansions and Russia’s military responses are driving instability in Eastern Europe.

Has there been diplomatic efforts to ease the tension?

  • US has hinted at the possibility of mutual compromises, saying US was open to discussing missile deployments in Europe as well as limiting the size and scope of military exercises.
  • The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August 2019 after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.
  • The treaty banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 km).
  • Russia repeated a set of sweeping demands including a ban on further NATO expansion and roll back the alliance’s military presence to 1990 levels
  • Despite the lack of obvious progress, the atmosphere between the two sides appeared cordial.

What is the status of the recent Geneva talks?

  • The U.S. has publicly said that it will not shut NATO’s door on potential future members against the Russia’s demand of banning the NATO.
  • Any aggression against Ukraine might serve Russia’s tactical interests but could deal a deadly blow to any plan to bring the Russia-Europe ties back on track. 
  • Finding a solution to the crisis depends on whether both sides are able to get out of their Cold War mentality and build mutual confidence in bilateral relations. 

Connecting the dots:

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