US, Russia to hold arms control talks, Ukraine on January 10
The United States and Russia will have long-awaited talks in January, a White House official told AFP on Monday, with rivals set to negotiate over nuclear arms control and rising tensions over Ukraine .
“The United States is eager to engage with Russia,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council said on condition of anonymity.
“When we sit down to talk, Russia can put its concerns on the table, and we will also put our concerns about Russia’s activities on the table.”
Bilateral talks are scheduled for Jan. 10, the spokesperson said.
Representatives from Moscow and NATO are then scheduled to meet on January 12, while Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States, will meet on January 13, added the spokesperson.
The January 10 meeting will be held as part of the Strategic Security Dialogue initiative launched by US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at their summit in Geneva last June.
While this format will be primarily devoted to reviving post-Cold War nuclear arms control treaties, talks will also focus on the standoff over Ukraine, where Russia has deployed a significant combat force to the border, said a senior White House official, also on condition of anonymity.
The NATO-Russia Council meeting and talks between Moscow and the OSCE Permanent Council are expected to focus on Ukraine.
No removal from Ukraine
Western capitals accuse Putin of threatening to invade Ukraine, a former Soviet territory seeking to break out of Moscow’s sphere of influence and eventually join the NATO alliance.
Russia already occupies part of Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula and is accused of instigating a pro-Moscow separatist rebellion in the industrial east of the country.
Russia’s deployment of tens of thousands of new troops to the border has raised fears in Kiev and among its Western allies of a wider war, possibly including further seizures of Ukrainian territory.
Putin denies planning to attack the neighboring country, saying the troop movements are aimed at defending Russia against encroachment by the Western military.
This month, he made a series of far-reaching security demands on Western countries, including banning Ukraine from NATO membership.
In response, the United States and its European partners threatened to impose severe economic sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine, while offering to hold negotiations.
The spokesperson for the National Security Council said Ukraine’s interests would not be ignored in reaching an agreement with Russia.
The negotiations will not include “anything about our allies and partners without our allies and partners, including Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.
“President Biden’s approach to Ukraine has been clear and consistent: unite the alliance behind two tracks – deterrence and diplomacy. We are united as an alliance on the consequences to which Russia would be faced if it headed for Ukraine, “the spokesperson added.
“But we are also united in our willingness to engage in principled diplomacy with Russia.”
There was no immediate word on who would represent the two sides on January 10.