Russian and U.S. negotiators will begin bilateral talks on Jan. 10 to discuss ongoing tensions over Ukraine and a rise in military activity near its Western border, a White House official confirmed late on Monday.
“The United States looks forward to engaging with Russia,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told news agency AFP on condition of anonymity. “When we sit down to talk, Russia can put its concerns on the table and we will put our concerns on the table with Russia’s activities as well.”
The spokesperson added that representatives of both Moscow and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are also expected to meet for a meeting on Jan. 12, while representatives for Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) may meet on Jan. 13.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also previously offered to resume dialogue with Moscow over the military build-up around Ukraine and proposed the formation of a NATO-Russia Council in mid-January.
Sergey Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, confirmed with news agency TASS on Tuesday that the Jan. 10 talks are scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ryabkov stated that he hopes “the bilateral Russian-American consultations” will develop into negotiations on draft agreements previously offered by Moscow.
Earlier this month, Russia unveiled a wishlist of security proposals it wants to negotiate, including a promise NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
The United States and Ukraine say Russia may be preparing for an invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, an accusation Russia has repeatedly denied. Instead, Moscow claims it is Ukraine’s growing relationship with NATO that has caused the standoff to escalate.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 23 that he wants to avoid conflict but an “immediate” response from the United States and its allies to its demands for security guarantees is urgent.
The administration of President Joe Biden has said some of Russia’s security proposals are unacceptable, but that Washington will respond with more concrete ideas on the format of any talks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated last week that the bilateral talks will likely continue, though no details are finalized yet.
“There have been proposals put forward by the Russians—some we would agree with, some we certainly wouldn’t agree with,” Psaki said during a press briefing on Dec. 23. “We also agree diplomatic conversations are the right path forward,” she added.
Seek the Lord while He may be found,
call you upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him,
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55: 6-7 Modern English Version)