Russia open to further Ukraine talks as Nato offers a fresh round of meetings

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Russia said on Tuesday it was open to further talks on Ukraine as Nato’s chief invited Moscow to continue with negotiations amid fears that time is running out for a resolution.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country would only come back to the table once Nato responded to Moscow’s security proposals for an overarching approach to improve relations.

The sweeping guarantees sought by President Vladimir Putin include a ban on Ukraine joining Nato, something the military alliance has said Russia has no right to veto.

About 100,000 Russian troops are massed on its border with Ukraine, leading to fears in some western capitals that an invasion is imminent. Russia rejects the invasion claims.

“We are now awaiting responses to these proposals – as we were promised – in order to continue negotiations,” Mr Lavrov said during a press conference with visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.

“Let’s hope these talks will continue,” he said. “Time is running out to save negotiations.”

A week of talks in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna last week between Nato member states and Russia failed to make concrete progress.

Nato Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg, speaking after Mr Lavrov’s comments, said the alliance was prepared to look at ways to improve military and civilian lines of communication with Russia, as well as arms control.

“Nato allies are also prepared to discuss concrete proposals on how to reduce risks and enhance transparency regarding military activities, and how to reduce space and cyber threats,” said Mr Stoltenberg in Brussels alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We’re also prepared to resume the exchange of briefings on exercises and our respective nuclear policies.”

But he reiterated that Nato would not compromise on core principles, including the right of each nation to choose its path – a probable reference to Russia’s demand to not allow Ukraine to join the alliance.

The meetings of the Nato-Russia Council sought to “address our concerns but also listen to Russia’s concerns, and to try to find a way forward to prevent any military attack against Ukraine”, Mr Stoltenberg said.

Ms Baerbock was in Moscow after meetings in Kiev and said it was difficult for the West to believe Russia’s claims it had nothing planned.

“Over the past few weeks, more than 100,000 Russian troops, equipment and tanks have been deployed near Ukraine for no reason. It’s hard not to see that as a threat,” she said.

Mr Stoltenberg reiterated Nato’s line that Russia will face repercussions if it does invade Ukraine.

“We send a very clear message to Russia if they once again decide to use force against Ukraine it will come with a high cost for Russia – economic, financial, political sanctions. Nato allies also provide support to Ukraine,” he said, a sentiment echoed by Mr Scholz.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Kiev on Wednesday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

He will “discuss recent diplomatic engagements with Russia and joint efforts to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine, including allies’ and partners’ readiness to impose massive consequences and severe economic costs on Russia”, the State Department said.

The UK, a Nato member, announced on Monday that it was sending weapons to Ukraine.

“Ukraine has every right to defend its borders, and this new package of aid further enhances its ability to do so,” said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

The types of equipment being sent “are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia”, he said, describing them as “light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday described the announcement of the shipments as “extremely dangerous” and “not conducive to reducing tensions”.

The National

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