The Columbus Dispatch
Russia: Talks with US are coming after the holidays
MOSCOW – Talks between Russia and the United States on Moscow’s demand for Western guarantees precluding NATO’S expansion to Ukraine will start immediately after the new year holiday period, Russia’s top diplomat announced Monday.
“It is with the U.S. that we will carry out the main work of negotiations, which will take place immediately after the new year holidays end,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview Monday. The holidays in Russia will last for 10 days, through Jan. 9.
Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in central and eastern Europe.
Washington and its allies have refused to provide such pledges, but said they are ready for the talks.
The demands, contained in a proposed Russia-u.s. security treaty and a security agreement between Moscow and NATO, were drafted amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has stoked fears of a possible invasion. Russia has denied it has plans to attack its neighbor but pressed for legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and weapons deployment there.
Lavrov said last week that, in addition to talks with the U.S., Moscow will start separate talks with NATO, as well as separate negotiations under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
It is important that “our proposals aren’t wound up in endless discussions, which the West is famous for and which it knows how to do, that there is a result of all these diplomatic efforts,” Lavrov said Monday.