Russia on Wednesday said it will engage the U.S. in security talks at the start of the new year to discuss guarantees it wants from the West as tensions continue to escalate over Ukraine.
“It is agreed that at the very start of next year bilateral contact between American negotiators and ours will become the first round (of talks),” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a Wednesday press event, according to Reuters.
The State Department did not immediately respond to Fox News’ questions on what the talks will entail. But according to the Russian foreign minister, the Kremlin has handed over a list of grievances it wants to negotiate with the U.S. and its NATO allies.
PUTIN WANTS US AND ALLIES TO GUARANTEE NATO WON’T EXPAND EAST
The announcement comes just one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to take military-based “reciprocal measures” to counter what he argued were “unfriendly steps” by the U.S. and NATO.
Putin alleged the Kremlin was “fully entitled to these actions that are designed to ensure Russia’s security and independence.”
Putin’s warning followed what the Pentagon said were unfounded accusations by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who claimed U.S. contractors were smuggling “unidentified chemical components” into Ukraine.
Tensions between the U.S. and NATO have spiked in recent weeks with Russia’s continued military buildup along the Ukrainian border.
The White House and its western allies have repeatedly warned Putin that if he invades Ukraine there will be serious repercussions.
But U.S. intelligence officials have said they believe Russia plans to invade Ukraine in the New Year – a multifront invasion that could include as many as 175,000 troops.
EUROPEAN UNION LEADERS PRESS RUSSIA TO RESUME PEACE TALKS WITH UKRAINE
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Tuesday rejected the accusations by Shoigu as “completely false.”
Tuesday’s statements are in line with comments made earlier this month by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who suggested without providing evidence that NATO was looking to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.
He said Russia may be forced to do the same, Reuters reported.
The rhetoric from top Kremlin officials over the last few weeks suggests a pattern of attempted provocation, according to security experts.
President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, Alina Polyakova, said “Putin’s framing of Russia as a victim is disinformation.
“Ukraine didn’t invade Russia,” she added. “Russia has been the aggressor in every recent conflict — but it serves a purpose: justifying military aggression to the Russian people.”
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And former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia under the Obama administration, Evelyn Farkas, said Tuesday, “Putin just declared war on Ukraine (pretending it’s war against the U.S. and its allies, provoked by us).”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday it welcomes “meaningful dialogue” with Russia early next year.