Ukraine Update: 22 December, 2021

Russia announced earlier today that security talks with the United States and NATO will begin in early January, 2022. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated his country’s desire for legally binding agreements that NATO expansion will not continue and that certain classes of NATO weapon systems will not be deployed in close proximity to Russia’s borders. Dates for the discussions have not been agreed upon yet, though Lavrov has said there will be separate sets of talks for NATO and the US. It remains unclear what Russia’s expectations for the talks are, but Lavrov’s remarks give a hint. “I hope that they will take us seriously given the moves we take to ensure our defense capability.”

The foreign minister’s remarks came as Russian energy giant Gazprom continues to restrict natural gas supplies to Europe. There have been accusations lately coming out of European capitals that Russia is using energy exports as a weapon in the growing geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West. Gas prices in Europe are rising again in the face of Russian gas flows to Germany having been reversed yet again due to capacity issues.

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