Upcoming US-NATO-Russian diplomacy amid Ukraine crisis

5 January 2022

In preparation for a series of diplomatic meetings next week, NATO foreign ministers will hold a video conference on 7 January, chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance said in a press release.

US and Russian officials are due to hold security talks on 10 January in Geneva. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and other senior Russian officials are expected to attend the talks with the US delegation that will be led by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. On 30 December, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks over the phone.

After that a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) will be held in Brussels on 12 January, as both sides seek dialogue to prevent open conflict over Ukraine. An espionage dispute in October 2021 and earlier disagreements had derailed efforts to resurrect the NRC which last met in 2019.

On 3 January, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Russia's military build-up along Ukraine's border with the Bucharest Nine group of NATO allies.

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, is currently in Ukraine on a two-day trip to show support for Kyiv, which aspires to join both the EU and NATO. Borrell, accompanied by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, visited Ukraine's contact line with Russian-backed separatist rebels. EU foreign ministers are also expected to discuss their next steps later in January.

On 6 January Russia will host talks with Ukraine, Germany and France in the so-called Normandy Format—the representatives first met informally during the 2014 D-Day celebration in Normandy in an effort to resolve the war in Donbas— the first since 2019.

In the meeting of the NRC, Moscow will be looking for guarantees that NATO will halt its eastward expansion and end military cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia, which have territorial disputes with Russia.

Moscow also denies US assertions that it is planning an invasion of Ukraine and accuses Kyiv of building up its own forces in Donbas. The US has been supplying small arms and ammunition to Ukraine, along with Javelin missiles it says should be used only in defence.

On 12-13 January, Brussels will also host a meeting of the NATO Military Committee at the level of chiefs of defence.

On 13 January, talks will continue in the broader format of the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states.