EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

With tensions between the United States and Russia over tens of thousands of Russian troops now massed near Ukraine’s border, recent phone calls between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week and the announcement of US-Russia talks in Geneva this month were both wise and welcome.

But lessening tensions won’t be easy. Putin forced the talks with his military buildup and publicly demanded immediate guarantees: that Ukraine not join NATO; that NATO not expand farther to the east; that the United States not deploy missiles on Russian borders; and that NATO reduce its forces in Eastern and Central Europe. These “red lines” have been rejected out of hand by the Biden administration.

But instead of demanding de-escalation before progress in talks could be made, imagine if Biden had taken the first steps toward negotiations between the two countries. What would a sensible US posture look like?

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.