US moderates expectations for talks with Russia amid Ukraine crisis

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks in the State Department Briefing Room in Washington, United States, January 7, 2022. Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS

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WASHINGTON, Jan.9 (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday he did not expect any headway in the US-Russian security talks this week, but hopes to find middle ground in the midst of a crisis in Ukraine.

“I don’t think we’re going to see any breakthroughs in the next week or so,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union”.

“We are going to be able to put things on the table. The Russians will do the same (…) and we will see whether it is necessary to move forward,” he said.

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He said any progress would depend on the actions of both sides in the negotiations which Washington says will avoid the prospect of another Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Any movement to solve the problems, he said, will have to be on a reciprocal basis.

Blinken’s comments lowering expectations for upcoming talks echoed Russia’s hard line on Sunday that it would not make any concessions under US pressure in this week’s Ukraine crisis talks.

He stressed that progress would be difficult, if not impossible, amid the significant military reinforcement of Moscow on its border with Ukraine.

“To make real progress, it is very difficult to see this happen when there is a continuous escalation, when Russia has a gun to Ukraine’s head with 100,000 troops near its borders,” he said. Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week”.

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Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Christi C. Elwood