US, Russia to discuss Ukraine and security concerns next month

Russia had amassed troops near the Ukrainian border in recent months, which US intelligence has assessed as preparation for a full-scale invasion in early 2022. The Russian Defense Ministry said in Saturday in a statement that 10,000 soldiers had returned to their permanent bases. after completing his training near the Ukrainian border.
The Biden administration has repeatedly warned Russia and threatened economic sanctions against a possible invasion of Ukraine, saying the United States is “ready to act if and when we need it”, while the United States also continues diplomatic engagement with Russia.. President Joe Biden called on Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month to ease tensions.

Russia demanded security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including a binding commitment that NATO will not expand further east and allow Ukraine to join the alliance military.

Biden previously signaled that the United States would not make any concessions on the future of NATO or Ukraine.

“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 Russia would face if it moved towards Ukraine. engage in principled diplomacy with Russia, “the NSC spokesman said in a statement.

Russia and NATO also plan to hold a separate meeting on January 12, with both CNS spokesman and a NATO press officer confirmed to CNN.

The two sides are also expected to engage at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe scheduled for January 13, according to the US spokesman.

“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,” the NSC spokesman said. “We will adhere to the principle of ‘nothing about our allies and partners without our allies and partners, including Ukraine.’ There will be areas where we can make progress and areas where we do not agree. the purpose of diplomacy. “

US officials plan to consult regularly with Ukraine on the side as negotiations take place next month, a White House official told CNN, since Ukraine is not a member of two of the three bodies that must meet in early January to discuss the country’s future and Russia demands that NATO not expand further east.

Asked why the White House planned to use the strategic stability dialogue between the United States and Russia – traditionally reserved for nuclear weapons talks – for talks on Ukraine and NATO, the official said the administration wanted to use an existing format as a vehicle for the talks instead. create a new one especially for this purpose. The United States and Russia are still arguing over the agenda.

The official said the White House believed the talks would be more productive in an environment of de-escalation, but said the status of the talks did not depend on Russia pulling out. The White House still believes diplomacy is the most responsible way forward “even if we don’t get everything we want,” the official said.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Anna Chernova and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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