US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that any positive outcome on Ukraine talks depends on Russia's willingness to abandon aggression.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Russia must choose between dialogue and confrontation, ahead of talks in Geneva on soaring tensions over Ukraine.
"There's a path of dialogue and diplomacy to try to resolve some of these differences and avoid a confrontation," Blinken told CNN's "State of the Union" show on Sunday.
"The other path is confrontation and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression on Ukraine. We are about to test the proposition about which path President Putin is prepared to take."
Blinken warned that any positive outcome from the talks would rely in part on Russia's willingness to stand down from its aggressive posture, which he likened to "an atmosphere of escalation with a gun to Ukraine's head."
"So if we're actually going to make progress, we're going to have to see de-escalation, Russia pulling back from the threat that it currently poses to Ukraine," US President Joe Biden's top diplomat said.
Blinken acknowledged he was not anticipating major breakthroughs in the talks, but stressed there were potential punishments awaiting Washington's rival if it does not engage in diplomacy.
Earlier, Blinken told ABC's ''This Week'' that Russia could face severe economic and financial consequences.
"This is not just me saying it. We have had the G7 (Group of Seven leading democracies) make clear there would be massive consequences. The European Union and NATO partners and allies as well."
Moscow on Sunday ruled out any concession at the highly anticipated talks, which open a week of diplomacy in which Russian officials will meet with NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The Kremlin, wary of NATO's potential eastward expansion, has insisted the grouping never grant membership to Ukraine, a former Soviet state which is pushing to join the trans-Atlantic body.
Ukraine protest ahead of talks
With the fate of Ukraine at stake, protesters took to the streets of Kyiv ahead of critical strategic talks between the United States and Russia.
The immediacy of the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine will top the agenda in a series of high-level meetings between the US and Russia that get underway on Monday.
A day ahead of the talks, protesters voiced their concerns over Russia's next move amid growing alarm over Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine.
Some held up signs reading "say no to Putin", referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.