According to a NATO official, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has organised a special meeting of ally ambassadors with top Russian officials for next week as both sides seek dialogue in an attempt to avoid open conflict over Ukraine.

The Western military alliance has been seeking a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council for months, concerned about Russia's military buildup along Ukraine's border, but the forum appeared to be at risk after an espionage dispute in October.

The council meeting, which has been a platform for communication since 2002, will take place in Brussels on January 12th, following security talks between US and Russian officials in Geneva on January 10th.

Moscow wants assurances that NATO's eastward expansion will be halted, as well as military cooperation with Ukraine and Georgia.

NATO - Opinion: Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg  following the the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of  Defence Ministers, 08-Nov.-2017

"Any discussion with Russia would have to begin on the basis of reciprocity, address NATO's concerns about Russia's actions, and be conducted in consultation with NATO's European allies," a NATO official said.

Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, announced that Russian officials will attend the NATO meeting in Brussels.

After meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and other top Russian officials are expected to join the Brussels meetings.

The discussions will continue on January 13 in the broader format of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which comprises the US and its NATO allies, as well as Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states.