U.S. and Russia start negotiations amid threat to Ukraine

GENEVA, Switzerland (NBC) – The United States and Russia began difficult negotiations in Geneva Monday that Washington hopes can avert the danger of a new Russian invasion of Ukraine without conceding to the Kremlin’s expansive security demands.

The talks were held at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Geneva when U.S.-Russia relations are at their most tense since the cold war ended three decades ago. Discussions will then move on to meetings in Brussels and Vienna.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a tweet from Geneva that “the U.S. will listen to Russia’s concerns and share our own.”

Nearly 100,000 Russian troops are gathered within reach of the border with Ukraine in preparation for what Washington and Kyiv say could be an invasion, eight years after Russia seized the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.

Russia denies invasion plans and said it is responding to what it calls aggressive and provocative behavior from NATO and Ukraine, which has tilted toward the West and aspires to join the bloc.

Last month, Russia presented a sweeping set of demands that include a ban on further NATO expansion and an end to the alliance’s activity in central and eastern European countries that joined it after 1997.

The United States and NATO have dismissed large parts of the Russian proposals as non-starters, raising questions about whether there is any middle ground.

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