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Russia hands security demands to US official

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15 December 2021, 16.16

Russia said Wednesday it had delivered its proposals for legal security guarantees over NATO's expansion to a top US diplomat after President Vladimir Putin said he wanted talks to start immediately.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov discussed Russia's insistence to spell out in writing that NATO would halt its eastward expansion with Karen Donfried, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Moscow said.

"A detailed discussion of the issue of security guarantees took place in the light of ongoing attempts by the United States and NATO to change the military-political situation in Europe in their favour," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters later Wednesday, Putin's foreign policy advisor Yury Ushakov said Russian officials had handed over to Donfried a set of Moscow's proposals during the meeting.

He did not provide further details.

Last week, Putin and US leader Joe Biden held two hours of talks, with the Kremlin chief demanding that the West put in writing guarantees that Ukraine would not become a NATO launchpad.

Donfried said in a video statement that she would "take these ideas back to Washington and also share them with our allies and partners".

She added that during meetings she had raised "concerns regarding Russia's military buildup near Ukraine and reinforced the United States' commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

After the high-profile talks the Russian foreign ministry published a list of demands, pressing for NATO to formally scrap a 2008 decision to open its door to Georgia and Ukraine, among other conditions.

Ushakov was speaking to reporters after a video call between Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday, saying Xi told Putin he "fully supports our initiative".

Putin for his part expressed hope that American and NATO officials would give a "positive evaluation" to Moscow's proposals, Ushakov said.

He added that he himself would also discuss the issue with a US official later Wednesday.

Putin said Tuesday he wants "immediate" talks with the United States and NATO over security guarantees, as tensions soar between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.

Donfried visited Kiev on Tuesday in a gesture of support in the face of Russia's troop buildup on the border.