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US Ready for Security Talks With Russia in Early January, Senior Administration Official Says

© REUTERS / POOLFlags of the U.S., Russia and Switzerland are pictured in the garden in front of villa La Grange, one day prior to the meeting of U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland
Flags of the U.S., Russia and Switzerland are pictured in the garden in front of villa La Grange, one day prior to the meeting of U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.12.2021
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During his annual press conference on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that it is the West's turn to provide Moscow with security guarantees after the Russian side submitted a list of security proposals to the United States and NATO last week.
The United States is ready for security talks with Russia in early January, a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday. Washington hasn't given a substantive answer to the security proposals submitted by Russia last week, and doesn't plan to do so publicly. According to the official, the Biden administration will respond to the suggestions during the upcoming talks.
The Biden administration believes negotiations should start from the baseline foundational principles and documents on European security, which underscores territorial integrity, borders not being changed by force and respect for sovereign decision-making, the US official said.
Despite Washington's readiness to hold discussions on the matter, the date and the venue haven't been set yet. The contacts can be made through various formats, including the NATO-Russia Council and OSCE, the official added.
The United States has conveyed to Russia that substantive progress in these talks will only be possible if there is an environment of de-escalation, the official said, claiming that there is no evidence that the Ukrainian side is escalating tensions with Russia. According to the official, the United States and its European allies are ready to take serious action against Russia in the form of severe economic sanctions should it "invade" Ukraine.
The official then said that the US will never agree to some Russian proposals, but there are other areas that Washington "may be able to explore".
"We are not going to respond to every proposal or comments that have been made including from the Russian president and I think our approach is understood to the Russians in this regard", the US official said during a conference call with reporters. "There are some issues that Russia has raised that we believe we can discuss and others they know very well we will never agree to".
Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press briefing that the United States is not ready to agree to the proposals regarding NATO.
The statements follow Vladimir Putin's four-hour annual press conference, during which the Russian president demanded that the West give firm guarantees to Moscow that NATO will not expand eastward.
“Our actions will depend on the unconditional guarantees of Russian national security, rather than the course of negotiations. We have made it clear that NATO's expansion eastward is unacceptable. The US is on our doorstep with its missiles. How would Americans react if we were to place our missiles at the US border with Canada or Mexico?" Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an annual end-of-year news conference at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, in Moscow, Russia - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.12.2021
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Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry laid out two comprehensive draft agreements on security guarantees between Russia, the United States, and NATO.
"The Parties shall settle all international disputes in their mutual relations by peaceful means and refrain from the use or threat of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations", one of the proposals suggests.
Under the draft proposal, Russia and NATO will "exercise restraint in military planning and conducting exercises to reduce risks of eventual dangerous situations in accordance with their obligations under international law, including those set out in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of incidents at sea outside territorial waters and in the airspace above, as well as in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of dangerous military activities".
The proposals also stipulate the creation of "hotlines" for emergency contacts between the parties.
In the drafts, Russia also suggests that the US commit to not setting up military bases in ex-Soviet republics that are not NATO members and refrain from further expansion of the alliance to the east.
"The Parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organisations, military alliances or coalitions, in areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other Party as a threat to national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the Parties", the document says.
Russian and NATO flags - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.12.2021
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The draft agreement also obliges Moscow and Washington to not seek to use the territory of other states "with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party".
The security proposals were made public amid simmering tensions between Russia and the West along with Ukraine over claims that the Russian side has been building up its military at the Ukrainian border.
Russia has also been accused of planning to invade Ukraine. Moscow has strongly denied these allegations, describing them as "absurd" and stressing that it has the right to move its troops within its own territory and at its own discretion. The Kremlin has, in turn, stressed that Kiev is violating the Minsk agreements and deliberately escalating tensions in the self-proclaimed Donbass republics.
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