The Russian Foreign Minister said that security talks with the United States will start after the holiday

Russia denied intending to attack its neighbor, but requested legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and arms deployment there.

Russia’s top diplomat said on Monday that talks between Russia and the United States over Moscow’s demand for Western guarantees to prevent NATO expansion in Ukraine will begin immediately after the New Year holiday.

“With the United States we will conduct most of the negotiations that will take place immediately after the New Year holidays,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview on Monday. The holiday in Russia will last for 10 days, until January 9.

Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding NATO refuse to join Ukraine and other former Soviet states and abolish military alliances in Central and Eastern Europe.

Washington and its allies refused to make such promises, but said they were ready for talks.

The demands, contained in a draft Russia-US security treaty and a security pact between Moscow and NATO, were drawn up amid rising tensions over Russian troop build-up near Ukraine fueling fears of a possible invasion.

Russia denied planning to attack its neighbor, but requested legal guarantees that would rule out NATO expansion and arms deployment there.

Lavrov said last week that in addition to talks with the United States, Moscow would start separate talks with NATO on the issue, as well as separate negotiations under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

On Monday, Lavrov said it was important that “our proposals do not end in endless discussions for which the West is famous and knows how to do it, and that there is a result of all these diplomatic efforts.”

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On Saturday, a NATO official said that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had decided to call a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on January 12, adding that the bloc was in contact with Russia about the meeting.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Monday that the meeting would take place and described talks with NATO as “important”, but said details of the meeting were “under preparation” and that the date had not yet been confirmed.

Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told a press briefing before military attaches and representatives of foreign embassies on Monday that “NATO’s continued confrontational stance towards Russia” forced Moscow to demand security guarantees.

“NATO has always ignored Russian interests and stayed away from a fair discussion of existing issues,” Fomin said.

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