After bilateral talks in Geneva, the United States once again called on Russia to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis. The American negotiator, Vice Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman, said on Monday with a view to the upcoming meetings of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna: “This week Russia will have a unified message hear from the United States and our allies and partners that it is up to Russia to de-escalate tensions so that we have a real chance of finding diplomatic solutions. "

Sherman said in a phone call with journalists that the nearly eight-hour talks were "open and direct". But there were no concrete negotiations - the exploratory talks have not yet reached that point. Both sides had raised their security concerns. The American side made it clear that it was ready for talks on conflict issues such as the limitation of maneuvers or the stationing of missiles. "However, we have strongly opposed security proposals that are simply out of the question for the United States."

The American negotiator said no one would be allowed to stop NATO's open door policy.

"We will not forego bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that want to work with the United States." The United States would also not make a decision on Ukraine, Europe or NATO without first clarifying this with those concerned.

Sherman threatened Russia again with massive consequences in the event of a military escalation in the Ukraine crisis.

Ryabkov calls negotiations "professional"

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described the negotiations with the Americans on the Ukraine conflict as professional.

"The conversation was difficult, but very professional, profound and concrete," said Ryabkov after the meeting in Geneva.

The American side had been assured that Russia was not planning an attack on Ukraine.

Moscow had also made it clear that progress had to be made with regard to essential demands.

These included the end of NATO's eastward expansion and the abandonment of the western military alliance to stationing offensive weapons near the Russian borders.

Russia will not abandon these demands.

A decision on further steps and perspectives could only be made in the next few days, said Ryabkov.

A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels is scheduled for Wednesday - the first in two and a half years.

Thereafter there will be talks within the framework of the OSCE in Vienna on Thursday.

The West has been accusing Russia of building troops in areas on the border with Ukraine for weeks.

It is feared that Russian soldiers could invade the former Soviet republic.

Russia denies such plans.

Russia, for its part, wants to prevent further Eastern European countries from joining NATO and is demanding a guarantee that Ukraine will never become a member of the alliance.