Russia must de-escalate tensions over Ukraine before talks on European security with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can begin, according to NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana.

While the military alliance may potentially discuss elements of Russia’s draft security proposals, “it can all be done the moment when the Russian Federation de-escalates the situation” on Ukraine, Geoana said in an online interview Friday from Brussels. “It’s, in my opinion, an indispensable pre-condition to resume the dialog within the NATO-Russia Council.”

Geoana stated that NATO is prepared for "any possibility" if Russia continues its "aggressive" moves. Nonetheless, he expressed hope that the spiraling tensions that have brought relations to their lowest point since the Cold War can be resolved diplomatically while dismissing Russia's demand for a say in which countries NATO admits as unacceptable.

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the alliance suspended activities through the NATO-Russia Council. NATO expelled eight diplomats from Russia's NATO mission as spies in October of this year. Russia retaliated by suspending the operation of its NATO mission and closing the alliance's Moscow office.

Geoana urged Russia to resume discussions at the council on a "menu" of issues including Ukraine's security and the conflict over Crimea, restoring communication lines, and the situation in Afghanistan.

Build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine-Russia border sparks concerns among Western allies | World News | Sky News