Russia says security talks with US, NATO to begin in January
Negotiations between Russia and the U.S. and NATO will begin in January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Last week, Russia released draft security agreements demanding that the U.S. and NATO call for the alliance to stop expanding further eastward, specifically by denying membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc nations. The documents also called for the parties to agree not to deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas that allow them to reach other parties.
Lavrov reiterated some of those concerns on Wednesday, saying that the country wanted legally binding guarantees that NATO would cease its eastward expansion and that certain weapons would not be deployed to countries neighboring Russia, according to Reuters.
“It is agreed that at the very start of next year bilateral contact between American negotiators and ours will become the first round [of talks],” Lavrov said, according to Reuters.
Lavrov did not give a specific date for when the talks will take place. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried said on Tuesday that officials from both governments are working together to “decide on a date.”
“There are some things that we’re prepared to work on and that we do believe that there’s merit in having a discussion,” said Donfried. “There are other things in those documents that the Russians know will be unacceptable.”
Reuters reported that Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday as well in order to discuss “regional security-related issues of concern.”
“The phone call is a continuation of communication between both leaders to ensure risk reduction and operational de-confliction. In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation private,” the U.S. military said of that exchange.
Lavrov said that Moscow will also start separate negotiations with NATO in January, per Reuters. A day earlier, according to the wire service, NATO said that it would look to begin discussions with Russia early in the new year.
The upcoming talks will take place amid heightened tension between Moscow and the West as Russia has continued to build up its military presence at its border with Ukraine, sparking warnings from world leaders that Russia may move to invade the former Soviet state.
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