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Moscow considering NATO proposal to hold talks on Jan 12: TASS

Russia, which has unnerved the West with a troop buildup
near Ukraine, last week unveiled a wish list of security proposals it wants to
negotiate, including a promise NATO would give up any military activity in
Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

“We have already received this (NATO) offer, and we are
considering it,” TASS quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

The United States and Ukraine say Russia may be preparing an
invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour. Russia denies that and says it is
Ukraine’s growing relationship with NATO that has caused the standoff to
escalate. It has compared it to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the world
came to the brink of nuclear war.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has said some of
Russia’s security proposals are obviously unacceptable, but that Washington
will respond with more concrete ideas on the format of any talks.

In an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation”
television show, Vice President Kamala Harris said Washington has been in
direct conversations with Moscow about the issue and reiterated the US
commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

“We’ve been very clear that we are prepared to issue
sanctions like you’ve not seen before,” Harris said, but declined to
elaborate on the specifics of the sanctions.

The United States, the European Union and the Group of Seven
have all warned Putin that he will face “massive consequences”
including tough economic sanctions in the event of any new Russian aggression.

The Kremlin’s demands contain elements – such as an
effective Russian veto on future NATO membership for Ukraine – that the West
has already ruled out.

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Others would imply the removal of US nuclear weapons from
Europe and the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from Poland and from
the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that were once in the Soviet
Union.

A Biden administration official in a call with reporters on
Friday said Washington has taken note of the concerns that Moscow has raised
and was ready to engage with Russia as soon as early January but a specific
date and location were yet to be set.

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