Washington is ready to continue diplomatic talks with Russia over mutual security concerns, the US State Department said Tuesday after a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of State for Russia Sergey Lavrov.
The discussion comes as tensions between Russia and the West remain high and Moscow is accused of stationing more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. The build-up has prompted a response from several NATO members, many of whom have sent weapons and promised financial aid.
The exchange, initiated by the Americans, was to follow up on Washington's formal written response to key Kremlin security proposals last December. The draft document contained a long list of guarantees aimed at boosting stability in Europe, such as a requirement to ban Kiev from joining NATO and a reduction in military activity by members of the bloc on the Ukraine-Russia border.
Last month, the US sent a counter-offer to Moscow, which is currently under consideration by the Russian government.
During the discussion, Blinken reiterated US support for Ukraine and recognition of the country's territorial integrity, while urging Russia to de-escalate and withdraw its troops and weapons from the border.
Russia has repeatedly denied it plans to invade Ukraine, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Moscow has the right to redeploy its troops within its own territory and should not worry any other nation.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov and Blinken agreed that there is a possibility for a more serious discussion, although the US insists that some of Moscow's proposals are not "initial". In a press release, the ministry also noted that a concerted effort would be made to "remove irritants" that prevent Russian diplomats from working in the United States.
A new call is planned for the near future, once the Russian government has formally responded to the US response to Moscow's security proposals.