Moscow considering NATO proposal to hold talks on 12 January

People wearing protective face masks against Covid-19 walk on the Red Square outside the Kremlin during a snowfall in Moscow, Russia, 7 December 2021. [EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV]

Russia has received a NATO proposal to commence talks on Moscow’s security concerns on 12 January and is considering it, TASS news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying on Sunday (26 December).

Russia, which has unnerved the West with a troop buildup near Ukraine, last week unveiled a wish list of security proposals it wants to negotiate, including a promise NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

“We have already received this (NATO) offer, and we are considering it,” TASS quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

The United States and Ukraine say Russia may be preparing an invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour. Russia denies that and says it is Ukraine’s growing relationship with NATO that has caused the standoff to escalate. It has compared it to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the world came to the brink of nuclear war.

Satellite images show Russia building up forces near Ukraine

New satellite images show that Russia has continued to build up its forces in annexed Crimea and near Ukraine in recent weeks while pressing the United States for talks over security guarantees it is seeking.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia wanted to avoid conflict but needed an “immediate” response from the United States and its allies to its demands for security guarantees. Moscow has said it expects talks with US officials on the subject to start in January in Geneva.

Putin: Russia needs 'immediate' security guarantees

Russia wants to avoid conflict with Ukraine and the West, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday (23 December), demanding an “immediate” response from the United States and its allies to Moscow’s demand for security guarantees.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has said some of Russia’s security proposals are obviously unacceptable, but that Washington will respond with more concrete ideas on the format of any talks.

The Kremlin’s demands contain elements – such as an effective Russian veto on future NATO membership for Ukraine – that the West has already ruled out.

Others would imply the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from Poland and from the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that were once in the Soviet Union.

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