Russia announces talks with US, NATO next year

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Russia announces talks with US, NATO next year

​Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday the Kremlin will begin separate talks with the US and NATO early next year about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand for guarantees that NATO will not expand into Ukraine​ and other former Soviet nations.

“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),” ​Sergey ​Lavrov told Russia’s RT television.

Putin has blamed the West for the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe even as Russia has massed as many as 175,000 troops and heavy equipment on its border with Ukraine, prompting fears that an invasion is imminent.​

The Russian strongman has denied he plans to launch an attack but has laid down a “red line” against the West deploying missile systems in the former Soviet republic. 

President Biden, who held a virtual summit with Putin earlier this month, has warned of “severe consequences” in the form of crippling economic sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine.

Joe Biden
Biden held a virtual summit with Putin early this month, during which he warned of “severe consequences” should Russia attack Ukraine.
EPA

Dmitry Kiselev, a Putin confidant and the head of state-controlled media outlet Rossiya Segodnya,​ ​said ​this week that ​if the West fails to deliver the security guarantees, Russia will “deploy missiles.”

“If Ukraine ever joins NATO or if NATO develops military infrastructure there, we will hold a gun to America’s head. We have the military capability,” he said.

In addition to guarantees against NATO expansion, Russia has demanded that the alliance roll back its military presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Lavrov said Moscow is committed to the talks, but warned that the negotiations should not be dragged out.  

Ukrainian reservists attend a military exercise.
Despite warnings from Biden, Putin has massed as many as 175,000 troops and heavy equipment along Russia’s Ukrainian border.
EPA

​“I hope that they will take us seriously given the moves we take to ensure our defense capability,” he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Tuesday that ​Biden opposes the security guarantees Putin is seeking, but will work with America’s European allies to counter Russia with “diplomacy and deterrence.”

A satellite image shows Russia's heavily armored presence at the Ukraine border.
A satellite image shows Russia’s heavily armored presence at the Ukraine border.
Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Tec

“The president has been extremely clear for many, many years about some basic principles that no one is moving back on: the principle that one country does not have the right to change by force the borders of another, that one country does not have the right to dictate the policies of another or to tell that country with whom they may associate,” Blinken said. 

“One country does not have the right to exert a sphere of influence,” the secretary added. “That notion should be relegated to the dustbin of history​.”

With Post wires

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