Prior to invading Ukraine, Moscow offered the West a series of security proposals to avert conflict in Europe. A senior Russian diplomat says that the offer is now invalid, but that the Kremlin is still open to arms control talks with Washington.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced the policy shift on Saturday, saying that any new arms control talks will come under new terms. The senior official added that Russia and the US remain in constant contact. The following day, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Russia has shown a "willingness to have real, serious negotiations."
While this is the first encouraging sign for bilateral diplomacy since Russia began its offensive on Ukraine in late February, both sides expressed pessimism. Sherman said that Washington believes that "Vladimir Putin is intent on destroying Ukraine." Likewise, Ryabkov said the Kremlin assessed the US still wasn’t serious about negotiations.
Russia offered the security proposal to Western powers in mid-December and demanded a written response. The US and NATO delivered them to Russia over a month later, though Moscow was unhappy with the answer it got. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the bloc showed only a willingness to negotiate on secondary issues.
Among Russia’s primary concerns include NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, while it also sought to have the US remove its strategic missile launchers from Eastern Europe.