Kerry, Lavrov, Deshchytsia in Geneva for Ukraine talks

Reuters

Posted at Apr 18 2014 01:23 AM | Updated as of Apr 18 2014 09:23 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Thursday (April 17) ahead of crisis talks on the situation in Ukraine.

The four-way talks also include the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton.

With Russian troops massed on the border with Ukraine, prospects of significant progress at the four-way talks appear slim.

By contrast, what Russian President Vladimir Putin says during his annual "hotline" session with the Russian people may have far greater influence on events in Ukraine's rebellious east.

European countries and the United States are threatening Russia with more sanctions unless it takes steps at the Geneva meeting to show it will de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine.

So far, diplomacy has failed to keep up with events on the ground, with Russia's partisans seizing control of territory before Western countries can formulate a response.

The United States and European Union have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a small number of Russian individuals, a response that Moscow has openly mocked.

Putin, meanwhile, has accused the Ukrainian government of risking mass bloodshed by using its military to try to crush the rebellion in the largely Russian-speaking east of the country.