NATO, Russia to hold high-level meeting later this month: report

NATO, Russia to hold high-level meeting later this month: report
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is set to hold talks with top Russian military commanders later this month, the first such high-level meeting in years, BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday.

The Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti will meet with the chief of general staff for Russia's Armed Forces Gen. Valery Gerasimov in Baku, Azerbaijan later in January, according to the news outlet.

The meeting between the Russian official and the NATO commander is the first of its kind since 2013, after the U.S. cut various channels to Russia following the conflict in Ukraine. 

BuzzFeed also reported that U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker is set to meet with Vladislav Surkov, senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon will meet with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. 

Relations between the U.S. and Russians have been rocky since it was revealed Russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. 

The Trump administration also approved the sale of lethal arms to Ukraine last month as government forces battle pro-Russian separatists in the eastern portion of the country. 

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told BuzzFeed News the meetings should not come as surprise. 

“This is all part of the normal course of diplomacy and it should come as no surprise to anyone that there are many issues that we need to discuss with the Russians," she said.