Top U.S. and Russia officials will meet Monday in Geneva to try to defuse tensions between the counties amid Russia's military building along its Ukraine border, though diplomats express little optimism about a solution.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and his delegation will meet at the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Swiss city to talk in person with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her team.
The Ukraine discussions are part of a larger meeting agenda in which the sides will also talk about arms control and other broader issues, according to the Associated Press.
Ryabkov after an informal working dinner Sunday predicted "difficult" talks in Geneva that are to be followed by a NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and a meeting Thursday in Vienna of the multilateral Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the wire service also reports.
Russia wants concessions from the U.S. and Western allies including that NATO will stop expanding into Ukraine and other former Russian states, amid concerns Russia will invade Ukraine.
State Department spokesman Ned Price says Sherman is stressing the United States' "commitment to the international principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the freedom of sovereign nations to choose their own alliances," a likely reference to Ukraine and its aspirations of joining NATO.
U.S. officials have also said some Russia demands, including a possible halt to NATO expansion, are in opposition to any country's sovereign rights to set up their own security arrangements and are therefore non-negotiable. However, they appear open to such ideas as curtailing possible future deployments of offensive missiles in Ukraine and putting limits on American and NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe if Russia moves its troops off the Ukraine border.