Representatives from the United States and Russia have set a date to discuss the tensions over Ukraine, both countries said.
In Washington, the National Security Council said on Monday evening there would be talks with Russia on January 10, within the framework of a strategic security dialogue.
Both sides would be able to raise their concerns at the meeting, the U.S. said. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, also confirmed the date.
Moscow hopes that the meeting will lead to negotiations on a draft agreement on the security guarantees demanded from NATO by Russia, Mr Ryabkov said, according to TASS news agency.
Russia and NATO are planning to hold separate talks two days later, on January 12, according to the White House, with NATO officials saying that the date was under consideration for a NATO-Russia Council meeting, the first in two and a half years.
According to the U.S., there will be a meeting of the permanent council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on January 13.
Under Russia’s draft proposal to de-escalate tensions, Moscow wants NATO to promise a halt to its eastward enlargement and prevent Ukraine’s membership, which it sees as a threat.
Washington said that no decisions would be made over the heads of allies – including Ukraine – in its talks with Moscow.
For weeks, the West has been concerned about reports that Russia has massed tens of thousands of soldiers in areas not far from Ukraine.
Parts of Ukraine are embroiled in a conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.
The Defence Ministry in Moscow announced on Saturday that more than 10,000 soldiers would return to their bases after taking part in a military manoeuvre, however, it did not reveal how many of them had been on the border with Ukraine.