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US will not change Russia’s position using pressure — senior diplomat

Sergey Ryabkov also stressed that the Russian party was ready to discuss any topic during the talks
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

GENEVA, June 16. /TASS/. Washington will not force Moscow to change its principled position on a number of issues using pressure, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Wednesday. 

"The Americans should not make a mistake thinking that through some kind of pressure or some verbal techniques they can change our principled position on well-known subjects," he said.

Ryabkov stressed that the Russian delegation is ready to discuss all topics at the summit in Geneva. "We will surely face a situation that has already been announced by the Americans on well-known topics - both regional and our internal ones — but we are ready for this. The president spoke quite clearly about this. We are not shying away from discussing any topics. There is no such topic that we would not be ready to discuss," he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister noted that Moscow was able to achieve agreement on absolutely all issues of interest for the summit agenda.

No discussions with US on prisoner exchange

Ryabkov noticed, commenting on a report that Switzerland was ready to provide assistance in exchanging Russian and US inmates, that "a possible swap between prisoners held in Russia and the US is not being discussed."

"We are not handling the prisoner swap as it is. In general, it’s very important to be exact about the terms. We have always said, and keep insisting, that the issue of a possible release of our nationals, who are convicted in the US in some cases absolutely illegally, as well as judgments of certain US judicial authorities, this decision is possible in the framework of using a mechanism stipulated by the 1983 Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This is not a swap," Ryabkov said.

"If we want to deal with this issue seriously, we should make particular decisions on a stable and, in this case, the only possible legal basis. We hope that after some time, our American colleagues will come to an understanding of this," the high-ranking diplomat said.

Earlier, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that it was early to raise the issue of a possible prisoner swap before the Geneva summit between the Russian and US presidents, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden. Speaking on the issue of swapping Russian national Viktor Bout for American Paul Whelan, Peskov noted that at the moment, it was totally irrelevant to deliberate on this.

Russia hopes Putin-Biden summit to send signal on strategic stability

Ryabkov proceeded, saying that "the Russian delegation is approaching a summit meeting between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Joe Biden of the United States positively and hopes that this encounter will send a coordinated signal on strategic stability issues."

"Our mood is positive, operational. Everyone knows his position, and work continues up to this point. We still hope that following its results, the summit will manage to send some coordinated signal on strategic stability issues and the continuation of the dialogue in this sphere," the senior Russian diplomat pointed out.

The summit will have a wide-ranging agenda, and it is not really possible to predict all of its possible results just yet, the high-ranking Russian diplomat stressed.

"It all depends on how the talk will proceed, but, in principle, I believe that the time has come to turn the relationship towards greater mutual understanding, if not greater constructiveness. This is the guideline that we have at our level and that we will subsequently use as well," Ryabkov explained.

The talks between the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, will be held at the Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16. It will be the first Russian-US summit since Putin's meeting with former US President Donald Trump in Helsinki in July 2018.