Kyiv residents unhappy as U.S.-Russia talks start

"I think it should not be this way. Ukraine must be present during those meetings because it is a more interested party than other countries, a more interested party than Russia and the United States. Ukraine must be sitting in the first row," 59-year-old Oleh said.

Washington hopes that negotiations will avert the threat of a new Russian military offensive in Ukraine, while not conceding to Russian security demands that include throwing out the prospect of Ukraine ever joining the NATO security alliance.

Ukraine has received repeated assurances from Washington and other NATO allies that there would be "No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine", as Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba put it last week.

Ukrainians have struck a defiant note while sounding the alarm about a build-up of tens of thousands of Russia troops near Ukraine's borders.

Dozens gathered at a protest in Kyiv on Sunday (January 9), holding up signs saying "Say no to Putin".

Ukraine has been fighting a war against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine since 2014, a conflict which President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last month has killed as many as 15,000 people.

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