MOSCOW – Russian and US negotiators will meet early next year to discuss Moscow’s demand for Western guarantees to prevent NATO expansion into Ukraine, Russia’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia would also begin separate talks with NATO in January to discuss the issue, adding that separate negotiations would also be held under the auspices of the Security and Security Organization. Cooperation in Europe.
Last week, Moscow filed draft security documents demanding that NATO deny accession to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and cancel military alliance deployments in Central and Eastern Europe.
Washington and its allies have refused to make such promises, but said they are ready for talks.
Moscow has filed lawsuits amid growing tensions over the build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine that has fueled fears of a possible invasion.
U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin at a conference earlier this month that Russia will face “serious consequences” if it attacks Ukraine.
Putin has denied plans to launch an attack, but described NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and the deployment of alliance weapons there as a “red line”.
“We don’t want a war,” Lavrov said Wednesday. “We do not want to take the path of confrontation, but we will ensure our security with the means we deem necessary.”
In a live interview with Russian television RT, Lavrov praised Washington’s “business” approach, which helped to quickly agree on the parameters of future talks.
He added that Moscow would be willing to consider Washington’s demands, but warned that talks should not be extended indefinitely.
“I hope they take us seriously considering the moves we make to ensure our ability to defend,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also praised the speedy agreement on the start of talks, but said they should be “focused on achieving concrete results and not prolonging them”. He added that Moscow expects Washington to present a detailed platform for talks and be prepared for a constructive discussion.
“We want these conversations,” he told reporters. “And certainly the talks are held to discuss the positions of others.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Washington is working with its European allies to address what he called “Russian aggression” with diplomacy, but said Biden opposes the kind of guarantees that Putin is looking.
“The president has been very clear for many, many years on some basic principles that no one is backing down to: the principle that one country has no right to forcibly change the borders of another, that one country has no right to dictate the policies of another or to tell this country who they can partner with, “Blinken told reporters in Washington. “A country has no right to exercise a sphere of influence. That notion should be relegated to the trash of history.”
Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine in 2014 and soon after gave its support to a separatist rebellion in the east of the country.
The fighting, which began more than seven years ago, has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated the industrial heart of Ukraine, known as the Donbas.
Moscow has rejected Western concerns over plans to invade Ukraine as a smear campaign, and in turn has accused Ukraine of forcibly regaining control of rebel-held areas. Ukrainian officials have denied having such plans.
On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said more than 120 U.S. private military contractors are currently operating in two villages near the eastern Ukrainian line of contact, training Ukrainian troops and setting up positions. shooting in residential buildings and different facilities.
He also alleged that they were storing toxic chemicals to prepare for a possible provocation.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry strongly rejected Shoigu’s statement as part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Yuras Karmanau contributed to this report from Kiev, Ukraine.