U.S., Russia signal pessimism ahead of Ukraine talks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday (January 9) he does not expect breakthroughs in upcoming U.S.-Russia security talks but hopes to find some common ground amid a crisis in Ukraine.

"I don't think we going to see any breakthroughs next week. We're going to listen to their concerns. They'll listen to our concerns and we'll see if there are grounds for progress."

Blinken told ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous that it was hard to be optimistic given Moscow's military buildup along the border with Ukraine.

"But, to make actual progress, it's very hard to see that happening when there's an ongoing escalation, when Russia has a gun to the head of Ukraine with 100,000 troops near its borders, the possibility of doubling that on very short order."

Tens of thousands of 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 says it is responding to what it calls aggressive and provocative behavior from the NATO military alliance and Ukraine, its former Soviet neighbor which has tilted towards the West.

On Sunday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov arrived in Geneva for talks with the U.S. set to begin this week.

But pessimism seems to emanate from both sides. Russia's state-owned RIA news agency quoted Ryabkov saying it was entirely possible diplomacy could end abruptly after a single meeting.

Ryabkov has in the past compared the current situation to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the world stood on the brink of nuclear war.

His remarks were consistent with the uncompromising line that Russia has been signaling for weeks.

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