US-Russian dialogue over Ukraine set for early January

·2-min read

US and Russian officials are set to hold security talks on the 10th of January to discuss concerns over their respective military activities and confront rising tensions over Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Biden administration announced the date late on Monday,adding that Russia and NATO were also likely to hold talks on the 12th of January with a broader meeting - including Moscow, Washington and other European countries - set for the following day.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed those dates on Tuesday and said he hoped the talks with the United States in Geneva would launch a process that would give Moscow new security guarantees from the West.

Such guarantees are a longstanding demand of Moscow, which has alarmed the West by massing tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine over the past two months.

The 12th of January NATO meeting is set to be held in Brussels, while the talks the next day would involve the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states.

Concerns

Russia's deployment of troops near Ukraine has raised fears in the West that Moscow, which seized Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and has since backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, may be poised for a new offensive.

Russia has denied plans for an assault but says it could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.

Moscow, worried by what it says is the West's re-arming of Ukraine, has said it wants legally-binding guarantees NATO will not expand further eastwards, and that certain offensive weapons will not be deployed to Ukraine or other neighbouring countries.

The US administration has promised economic sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine. It says it cannot promise a sovereign state such as Ukraine would never join NATO.

Washington says no decisions would be made about Ukraine without Ukraine.

On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a massive spending bill that, among other things, will provide $300 million for an initiative supporting Ukraine's armed forces, and billions more for a broader European defence policy.

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