Negotiations between Russia and the United States are scheduled to take place in the Swiss city of Geneva on 10 January, with talks between Moscow and NATO to follow on 12 January. The parties are set to discuss the tensions around Ukraine.
The United States is ready to propose scaling back its troop deployment and military drills in Eastern Europe in the upcoming talks with Russia, NBC reported Friday, citing a current administration official and two former US national security officials familiar with the plans.
According to the report, the Biden administration is considering suggesting that both the US and Russia address the scope of their military drills in the region. Aside from this, the White House is reportedly ready to discuss the number of American troops stationed in the Baltic States and Poland, advance notice about the movement of forces, and Moscow’s nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, situated between Poland and Lithuania.
Washington “is compiling a list of options for force posture changes in Europe to discuss with Russia at the talks,” one of the sources told NBC.
The news follows previous pledges by the Biden administration to respond with harsh sanctions in the event of Russian “military aggression” against Ukraine. Now, given the reported new suggestions for the upcoming talks, Washington expects reciprocal steps from Russia to scale back its forces in the region.
Currently, per NBC’s estimations, some 6,000 US troops are deployed in Eastern Europe out of more than 70,000 stationed in Europe.
Russia and the US are expected to hold talks in Geneva in regard to the situation on the Ukrainian border on 10 January. Two days after, NATO and Moscow are scheduled to discuss the security proposals from the Kremlin that include the demand that the alliance does not expand eastwards or place offensive weapons in the countries neighbouring Russia.
On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asserted that NATO will not compromise during the talks with Russia on its basic principle that any country may choose its own defence alliances.
Still, Stoltenberg underlined that the alliance is ready to engage in a dialogue with Moscow, in order to “make every effort to ensure a political path forward.”
Tensions in Eastern Europe
Russia has been accused of beefing up its military presence near the Ukrainian border, but denied the accusations, arguing that it has the right to relocate troops within its territory at its own discretion. For its part, NATO’s military activity near Russia’s borders poses a threat to the country’s security, the Kremlin underlined.
In the run-up to the forthcoming security talks in Geneva, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the US and Germany believe Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe present an immediate challenge to stability in the region.
However, Blinken underlined that the US remains ready to resolve the issues via diplomacy. He noted that if Russia is serious about de-escalating tensions, the United States could take steps to build greater confidence and address the issues, even though some of them – particularly those concerning arms control – will take time.