Russia and the United States will engage in high-level security talks in January 2022 amid heightened tensions over Moscow’s military presence at its border with Ukraine.
The planned talks were established following a late December 2021 call between U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, pictured, and Chief of Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov to discuss “regional security-related issue of concern,” according to a readout of the call.
“The phone call is a continuation of communication between both leaders to ensure risk reduction and operational deconfliction. In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation private,” the U.S. military said in a statement.
Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops at its border with Ukraine, sparking warnings from Western leaders that Russia may invade the former Soviet state. Russia has so far denied it is planning an invasion and insists its forces are there in response to military moves by NATO.
Russia in December released draft security agreements demanding that NATO give legally binding guarantees that it will stop expanding eastward, specifically by denying membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet bloc nations. Moscow also wants Western officials to promise that certain weapons would not be deployed to countries neighboring Russia.
The United States, meanwhile, has promised a “very meaningful and massive response” by Washington and its allies should Russia commit “renewed acts of aggression,” likely referring to the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
“We’ve seen plans that Russia has to commit renewed acts of aggression against Ukraine that it could implement on very short order,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
To quell the unrest, officials from Russia and the U.S. agreed to the high-level talks. Moscow will also start separate negotiations with NATO in January.
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS