Russia Plans Security Talks With U.S. Before NATO Meeting
(Bloomberg) -- Russia will start talks with the U.S. on its demands for guarantees of an end to NATO’s eastward expansion before a proposed Jan. 12 meeting between the military alliance and Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We will hold the main round of negotiations with the U.S. which will take place immediately after the end of the New Year holidays,” Lavrov said in a YouTube interview Monday with the Soloviev Live channel. The two sides will discuss arms control and the situation in Ukraine on Jan. 10, the Agence France-Presse news service reported later, citing the White House.
Russia’s top diplomat said his country isn’t presenting the U.S. with any “ultimatums,” but also won’t accept “endless” talks on its demands for legally binding pledges that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will halt further expansion and withdraw forces to the positions they held in 1997.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price repeated what’s becoming the U.S. mantra in response to concern that the Biden administration may cut its own deal with Russia while shortchanging the concerns of Ukraine and the European allies: “The principle is inviolable -- nothing about them without them,” he said.
Price said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday that the Russians will see that “the United States is joined at the hip” with those nations.
Separately, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s foreign policy adviser, Jens Ploetner, will meet with Kremlin Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak before the planned NATO-Russia council meeting, German government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters Monday. The two officials have already spoken by phone, he said.
President Vladimir Putin last week in his annual press conference praised what he described as a “positive” U.S. response to the Russian proposals. On Sunday, he said he would act on recommendations of his military experts in considering responses if the talks with the U.S. and NATO fail.
The U.S. has warned European allies that a massive Russian military build-up near Ukraine since November may be preparations for an invasion as early as next month. Russia denies plans for a military operation but has warned NATO against crossing “red lines” by stationing offensive weapons in Ukraine.
It also accuses the government in Kyiv of preparing an offensive to recapture territory in eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists. Ukraine rejects that claim.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Dec. 25 that more than 10,000 troops would return to their permanent bases in the Southern Military District following more than a month of training, including in areas near Ukraine.
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