WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday said that the United States was firm in pushing back on security proposals that are “non-starters” during talks with her Russian counterpart in Geneva, and added Washington won’t allow anyone to slam shut NATO’s open door policy.
U.S. officials had frank and forthright discussions with the Russian delegation over the course of nearly eight hours and is open to meeting again soon to discuss U.S.-Russian issues in more detail, Sherman said.
The Russian delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, laid out Russia demands first presented last month, including a ban on further NATO expansion and an end to the military alliance’s activity in central and eastern European countries that joined it after 1997, Sherman told reporters in a call following the meeting.
The U.S. side was “firm” in pushing back on proposals that the West says are “non-starters,” she said.
“We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open door policy,” she said, while insisting that the United States would not make decisions for other countries without them.
Nearly 100,000 Russian troops are gathered within reach of the border with Ukraine in preparation for what Washington and Kyiv say could be an invasion, eight years after Russia seized the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.
Russia denies invasion plans and said it is responding to what it calls aggressive and provocative behavior from the NATO military alliance and Ukraine, which has tilted toward the West and aspires to join NATO.
Sherman, the No. 2 diplomat at the State Department, will meet with U.S. allies in Brussels ahead of a NATO-Russia meeting on Wednesday and an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
U.S. and Russian officials would speak again at the end of the week to decide on a way forward.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Arshad Mohammed, Doina Chiacu and Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Grant McCool)