U.S. believes bilateral engagement with Russia will take place in January – diplomat

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WASHINGTON – Washington believes bilateral engagement with Russia will take place in January, the U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for Europe said on Tuesday, amid heightened tensions over a Russian troop build-up near its border with Ukraine.

Moscow last week presented a list of security proposals it wants to negotiate, including a promise NATO give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried told reporters in a phone briefing that a specific date would be agreed together with Russia to begin talks on Russia’s proposals.

“We have made clear that any dialogue must be based on reciprocity, address our concerns about Russia’s actions, and take place in full coordination with our European allies and partners,” said Donfried.

“Let me be clear, there will be no talks on European security without Europe.”

Donfried said the United States would continue to send military equipment and supplies to Ukraine in the weeks and months ahead and would send additional defensive materiel if Russia were to invade Ukraine.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for tensions since the end of the Cold War, but said he hoped for constructive talks with Washington and Brussels on Russia’s demands for security guarantees as there were signs the West was ready to work on the issue.

He said Russia’s proposals were no ultimatum, but it had nowhere to retreat over Ukraine.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; editing by Andrew Heavens and Jason Neely)