Russia hands draft security pacts to US as it seeks talks over Ukraine

Russia has submitted draft documents outlining security arrangements it wants to negotiate with the US and its Nato allies amid spiralling tensions over Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a senior Russian envoy stood ready to leave immediately for talks on the proposal in a neutral country.

Mr Peskov told reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have another call with US President Joe Biden before the year’s end to discuss the security issue, but he said it had not been agreed to yet.

In a video call with Mr Putin last week, Mr Biden voiced concern about a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and warned him that Russia would face “severe consequences” if Moscow attacked its neighbour.

Mr Putin has denied plans to launch an invasion and reversed the conversation by prodding western leaders to provide legally binding guarantees precluding Nato’s expansion to Ukraine and the deployment of the alliance’s weapons there, calling such actions a “red line” for Moscow.

Biden Midwest Tornadoes
US President Joe Biden has expressed concern about a build-up of Russian troops on the Ukraine border (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Mr Peskov said on Thursday that Russia had submitted drafts of a treaty and an agreement to the US, but he refused to specify what specific arrangements they contained and who could be the signatories.

He said Mr Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, discussed the Russian drafts with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during a call on Wednesday, and that Moscow was ready to start negotiations.

Moscow’s proposals were passed on to US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, who visited Moscow on Wednesday and met Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov.

Mr Ryabkov would be ready to depart for talks on prospective agreements in a neutral country, Mr Peskov said.

Speaking last week, Mr Ryabkov warned that the failure to stem mounting tensions between Russia and the west could push them to a showdown similar to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which put the world on the verge of a nuclear war.

A European Union summit on Thursday was set to focus on avoiding a Russian military invasion of Ukraine with threats of unprecedented sanctions for Moscow and the promise of diplomatic talks.

US intelligence officials say Russia has moved 70,000 troops to its border with Ukraine and is preparing for a possible invasion early next year. Moscow has denied an intention to attack and has accused Ukrainian authorities of planning an offensive to reclaim control of rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine’s industrial heartland, Donbas, since 2014, the same year Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

The Ukrainian government has denied planning an offensive in Donbas.

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