Russia agreed to security talks with the United States in January, Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, said Wednesday. This comes as Russia continues to increase tensions due to its military buildup at Ukraine’s eastern borders.

According to him, Moscow seeks legally binding security guarantees to ensure that offensive weapons are not deployed in countries bordering Russia. NATO must also be able to stop its eastward expansion. 

Russia provided Washington with a detailed list of security guarantees, which included a reduction in NATO’s involvement in Eastern Europe.

The announcement comes one day after Antony Blinken (Secretary of State) stated that US negotiators would work alongside NATO Allies to try to resolve Russia’s increasing aggression towards Eastern European nations at the table.

Blinken stated that he also wanted Russia to de-escalate and to withdraw forces from Ukraine’s border in an effort to reduce tension. 

Today, Lavrov stated that it was agreed that the first round of talks will take place at the beginning of next year through bilateral contacts between American negotiators. 

Both chief diplomats struck a cooperative tone, a stark departure from Russia’s inflamatory rhetoric of yesterday when Sergei Shoigu claimed that American fighters were working with Ukrainian troops in order to ‘provoke’ Russia.

Shoigu stated that ‘we have identified the presence in Avdiivka of more than 120 US mercenary group members to commit provocations,’ according to TASS (government-run news outlet).

In this image provided by the Ukrainian Board Guard Press Office, Ukrainian border guards watch as a special vehicle digs a trench on the Ukraine-Russia border close to Sumy, Ukraine, on Tuesday

This image was provided by the Ukrainian Board Guard Press Office. On Tuesday, Ukrainian border guards watched as a special vehicle dug a trench at the Ukraine-Russia border near Sumy (Ukraine).

Ukrainian reservists attend a military exercise at a training ground near Kiev, Ukraine, on December 18

Ukrainian Reservists attended a military exercise on a ground close to Kiev (Ukraine) on December 18.

Putin’s closest ally said that tanks filled with unknown chemical components had been delivered to Avdeevka (Krasny Liman) in an attempt to commit provocations.

Shoigu screamed at the US during a meeting of Defense Ministry officials on Tuesday, accusing them of “building up its military presence near Russian borders”. 

These allegations were denied by the Pentagon. 

The possibility that US troops could be deployed in Ukraine by the United States to confront Russia unilaterally has been ruled out by Joe Biden, US President. However, there are a few hundred American National Guard soldiers in Ukraine to provide training for the military of former Soviet countries.

AFP reported that the State Department had told AFP today that Russia was escalating its military buildup and is not stopping. 

According to the Ukrainian government, there may have been as many as 120,000 Russian soldiers on its doorstep in March.

Kyiv’s officials are warning Putin about increasing his military presence near the eastern border of the country. They beg the Western Allies to help them and claim that an invasion may soon occur.

Lavrov confirmed Russia would sit down with US negotiators one day after his American counterpart, State Secretary Blinken, revealed it was proposed

Lavrov stated that Russia will meet US negotiators on the same day as his American counterpart, State Secretary Blinken.

Although the Kremlin denied these claims, it warned Ukraine and West of its intention to retaliate against Russia if they felt Russia could compromise its national security. 

In 2014 Russia was rebuked by the global community for its illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, in apparent retaliation for Ukraine’s growing closeness with the West following a revolution that saw its pro-Putin government overturned in favor of democratically-elected leaders.

Congress responded to Russia’s latest provocation by increasing military aid for Ukraine in the next year’s national defence budget. 

One of the stronger provisions of the defense budget for 2022 to protect Russia includes an interdiction on the use of any US funds “for any activity which recognizes the sovereignty and control of the Russian Federation over Crimea.”

Congress also added an additional  $50 million to the $250 million the bill was already allocating toward the former Soviet satellite country. 

The bill stipulates that at least $75 millions of this amount will be used for ‘defensive deadly capabilities’.

On Tuesday, Russia's top Defense chief Sergei Shoigu (right, pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin) made a stunning accusation that the US was amassing troops in Ukraine to 'provoke' the Kremlin

Sergei Shoigu from Russia, the top defense chief, said Tuesday that the US was building troops in Ukraine as a way to “provoke” the Kremlin. 

Additionally, NATO, NATO’s economic Group of 7 and the US issued condemnations to Russia and asked them all to stop pursuing economic sanctions against Russia and expel it from SWIFT.

Putin, clearly alarmed by the moves, vowed on Tuesday to take military-based ‘reciprocal measures’ if the US and NATO didn’t cease their ‘aggressive line.’

Today, however Lavrov stated that Russia presented American officials with documents concerning US-Russian relations. He also said that the foreign policy aides for Putin and Biden have agreed to continue work.

Moscow was open to discussing a second document that it presented after its first meeting. This would be a draft of an agreement between Russia, NATO and other countries.

Russia seeks security assurances that NATO will stop its eastward expansion to Ukraine and Georgia, along with the end of its military activities in these countries. 

Biden and Putin met via videochat for approximately two hours earlier in the month. During this time, the American president pressured Putin to reduce tensions at Ukraine’s border.