Russia will hold security talks with US next month NATO Review

Russian FM says diplomats, military officials will take part in discussions caused by tensions over Ukraine.

Russian diplomats and military officials will join talks with the United States in January over a list of security guarantees Moscow wants from Washington amid summer tensions between the couple over Ukraine.

The talks will take place immediately after the country’s New Year holidays, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday in an interview live-streamed on his ministry’s website.

The first official working day of 2022 in Russia is January 10th.

There was no direct comment on Lavrov’s comments from Washington.

Russia has fired its Western allies from Ukraine and Kyiv with a recent build-up of tens of thousands of troops along the two countries’ shared border – the second such move this year – prompting Moscow to plan an imminent invasion of its neighbor.

But the Kremlin has denied that it intends to carry out an invasion of Ukraine.

Instead, it says, the security situation in the region has been undermined by the expansion of the transatlantic security alliance led by NATO and Ukraine’s growing ties with the body – Moscow’s developments threaten Russia and are in breach of guarantees to it when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Moscow has compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when the world came to the brink of nuclear war.

Earlier this month, Russia unveiled its wish list of security proposals it wants to negotiate. Among Moscow’s proposals, many of which are seen as non-starters in the West, is a requirement that NATO promise to cease all military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

Possible talks with NATO

Lavrov’s remarks came after Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday it was considering a NATO proposal to begin talks on Moscow’s security on January 12.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that it made sense for Russia to hold talks on the security guarantees it wants with NATO in addition to bilateral negotiations with the US.

Peskov added that the arrangements for the proposed discussions were worked out through diplomatic channels.

Separately on Monday, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that Russian troops had held a military exercise to train to repel enemy airstrikes.

About 1,000 troops took part in the operation, Interfax reported, with instructions from Russia’s Western Military District. The exercise came after some Russian troops began returning to permanent bases last week, after having previously deployed near the border with Ukraine.

Kyiv allies warn of ‘consequences’

The other Western allies of the US and Kiev, including the United Kingdom and the EU, have warned Moscow that it will have “massive consequences”, including severe economic sanctions, in the event of new aggression from Russia to Ukraine.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and shortly thereafter supported a separatist uprising in the east of the country, leaving relations between Moscow and the West stagnant after the Cold War.

The fighting in the industrial heartland of Ukraine, known as the Donbas, has so far killed more than 14,000 people, according to Kiev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week accused the Ukrainian government of violating its obligations under a 2015 agreement aimed at stopping the conflict and refusing to talk to representatives of two missing regions there. He said his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, had been influenced by “radical nationalist forces”.

Zelenskyy, for his part, has said he is ready to talk to Russia “in any format”.

The Kremlin has so far rejected such discussions and has said several times that it sees no point in a meeting without clarity on what the agenda would be.

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