U.S. and Russia agree to security talks on Jan. 10 amid growing tension over Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers walks under a camouflage net in a trench on the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Debaltsevo, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Ukraine Friday, Dec 3, 2021.
Andriy Dubchak | AP

WASHINGTON – U.S. and Russian officials will hold security talks next month amid an alarming Russian military buildup on its shared border with Ukraine.

The Jan. 10 meeting will focus on arms control agreements, NATO and Russian military activity as well as rising tensions over Ukraine. The meeting will be held as part of the Strategic Security Dialogue that President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during their June summit in Geneva.

“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. We will adhere to the principle of ‘nothing about our Allies and partners without our Allies and partners, including Ukraine,'” a National Security Council spokesperson told NBC News in a statement.

“There will be areas where we can make progress, and areas where we will disagree. That’s what diplomacy is about,” the spokesperson added, without indicating who from the Biden administration would lead discussions.

The spokesperson said that NATO allies will join additional talks that are slated for Jan. 12 and 13.

U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin amid Western fears that Moscow plans to attack Ukraine, during a secure video call from the Situation Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2021.
The White House via Reuters

Earlier this month, Biden and Putin spoke for two hours via secure video amid a backdrop of compounding national security matters.

For months, Ukraine has warned Washington and European allies that thousands of Russian troops were massing along its eastern border, a development that mimics Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. The annexation of the Black Sea peninsula sparked an international uproar and triggered a series of sanctions on Moscow.

Biden warned Putin that while his administration was not considering sending U.S. troops to Ukraine, an invasion of Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbor will trigger economic and political countermeasures.

During their call, Putin told Biden that Ukraine’s bid to join NATO must be denied in return for assurances that Russian troops would not carry out an attack.

Ukraine has sought acceptance into the world’s most powerful military alliance since 2002, where an attack on one member country is considered an attack on all of them.

The Kremlin has previously characterized NATO’s eastward expansion as a direct security threat, arguing that Ukraine’s admittance into the alliance could result in NATO troop movements on Russia’s borders.

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