U.S. and Russian officials will hold security talks on January 10 amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.
The bilateral talks will focus on nuclear arms control and Ukraine, a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council told the AFP and Reuters news agencies on December 27.
"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," the White House spokesperson said. "There will be areas where we can make progress and areas where we will disagree. That's what diplomacy is about."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed the date of the talks in comments to the TASS news agency on December 28, saying they will be held in Geneva and expressing hope that a raft of proposed "security agreements" sent to Washington earlier will be discussed.
Russia's proposals, which came amid heightened tensions stemming from a massive Russian troop buildup on the country's border with Ukraine, included demands that NATO halt its eastward expansion and end military cooperation with countries such as Ukraine and Georgia, among other things.
Russia and NATO are also likely to hold separate talks on January 12, while Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States and its European allies, will meet on January 13, the U.S. spokesperson said.
Russia has called the meeting with NATO "important" but has insisted on the inclusion of military officials and has yet to confirm the date. Those talks are expected to focus on the Russian troop buildup, which Washington and its European allies have said could be a prelude to a possible invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.
If the NATO-Russia Council meets as proposed by the alliance’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, it would be the first such gathering of the council in 2 1/2 years.
Moscow's participation in the council was suspended after Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Russia is also backing separatists in eastern Ukraine fighting a nearly eight-year war against Kyiv's forces.
Russia has denied an intention of launching an invasion, instead accusing Ukraine and NATO of provocations. The United States and its European allies have threatened Moscow with harsh consequences and economic sanctions in the event of a military escalation in Ukraine, while also offering to hold negotiations.
U.S. officials have said that some of Russia's demands are either unworkable or impossible, and that no decisions would be made about Ukraine without Ukraine.