US, RUSSIA KICK OFF ‘DIFFICULT’ TALKS ON UKRAINE

A top Russian official said he had a “difficult” conversation with his US counterpart on Sunday as preliminary talks on Ukraine got under way amid fears of a Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.

“The conversation was difficult, it couldn’t have been easy,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency after meeting US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman during a working dinner in Geneva.

Ryabkov described his talks with Sherman, which lasted a little over two hours, as “business-like.” A full day of talks was to follow Monday.

“I think that tomorrow we won’t waste any time,” Ryabkov said, adding that he “never loses optimism.”

The United States and Russia had set firm lines ahead of the high-stakes security talks on Ukraine, with Washington warning of the risk of confrontation and Moscow ruling out concessions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to steer away from aggression and choose the diplomatic path as the Kremlin, facing strong pressure to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border, demands wide-ranging new security arrangements with the West.

News Source : Hindustan Times

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