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Kremlin says it’s not optimistic on U.S. talks, won’t let them drag on

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The Kremlin said on Tuesday it saw no reason to be optimistic after a first round of talks with the United States on the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s demands from security guarantees from the West.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was positive, however, that Monday’s talks in Geneva had been held in an open, substantive and direct manner.

He said Russia was not setting deadlines but would not be satisfied with an “endless dragging out of this process”.

Russia has massed troops near Ukraine’s border and demanded the U.S.-led NATO alliance rule out admitting the former Soviet state as a member or expanding further eastward.

Washington has said it cannot accept these demands, although it is willing to engage on other aspects of Russia’s proposals by discussing missile deployments or limits on the size of military exercises.

Peskov said the situation would be clearer after two further rounds of talks that Russia is due to hold this week – with NATO in Brussels on Wednesday and at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on Thursday.

Russian and U.S. negotiators gave no sign of narrowing their differences in briefings to reporters after the first session in Geneva.

“Unfortunately we have a great disparity in our principled approaches to this. The U.S. and Russia in some ways have opposite views on what needs to be done,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told a news conference on Monday.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “We were firm … in pushing back on security proposals that are simply non-starters to the United States.”

The United States urged Moscow to reverse its build-up of an estimated 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, which has prompted Ukrainian and Western concerns about a possible new invasion, eight years after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.

Ryabkov said Russia had no intention of attacking Ukraine.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Peter Graff)

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SourceReuters

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