By DASHA LITVINOVA
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat says talks between Russia and the United States on Moscow’s demand for Western guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine will start immediately after the new year holiday period. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the talks will start immediately after Jan. 9. Moscow has submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have refused to provide such pledges. But they say they are ready for the talks. The proposals were drafted amid soaring tensions over a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has stoked fears of a possible invasion.