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Biden administrator backs Ukraine ahead of NATO, Russia summit

The Biden administration said on Tuesday it was “working closely” with its allies as NATO’s meeting with Russia looms amid heightened tensions with Ukraine.

US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman shared on Twitter details of her meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and said they “affirmed a unified approach to NATO” and were of the agreement on “the alliance’s unwavering support for Ukraine”.

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“The United States is committed to working closely with our allies and partners to urge de-escalation and respond to the security crisis caused by Russia,” she added.

The assistant secretary’s comments come just a day after Washington and the Kremlin met in Geneva to discuss security concerns as Russia maintained a military build-up along Ukraine’s border.

Russia justified this decision as a precaution and demanded that the alliance of 30 countries pledge not to expand eastward by allowing Ukraine to become a member of NATO.

US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attend security talks at the US Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday January 10, 2022 .
(Denis Balibouse / Swimming pool via AP)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is looking for a NATO “guarantee” that it will heed its terms, but the United States and NATO have categorically rejected a blanket membership ban.

Sherman called Monday’s meeting with Russia “frank and straightforward,” but reported no progress in de-escalating tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “no progress” had been made, but also said the Kremlin had “no intention of invading Ukraine”.

Sherman and Stoltenberg met on Tuesday to consolidate their alliances as NATO prepares for its meeting with Russia on Wednesday.

“We affirmed a unified NATO approach to Russia balancing deterrence and dialogue, and underlined our unwavering support for Ukraine,” Sherman said, noting that the alliance expects Russia to take steps. measures and reverses its aggressive stance.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Tuesday that the meeting between Russia and NATO would be a “moment of truth”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during an intervention at an enlarged meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry's Council at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during an intervention at an enlarged meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Council at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Russia.
(Sergey Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool photo via AP, file)

“Our expectations are quite realistic and we hope that it will be a serious and deep conversation on the key and fundamental issues of European security,” he told Russian media.

Russia and NATO are due to meet in Brussels on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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