KYIV, Jan 12 — Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba yesterday praised “unity” with the West against what he called Russian “ultimatums” during high-stake talks between the United States and Russia in Geneva.

“The talks in Geneva have proven that our strength lies in the unity and coherence of positions against... Russian ultimatums,” Kuleba said during a phone conversation with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a foreign ministry statement.

Kuleba and Blinken discussed the further steps to deter Moscow from launching an attack on its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine, which has battled pro-Kremlin separatists in two eastern regions bordering Russia since 2014, according to the statement.

Kuleba said the United States remains Kyiv’s number one security partner.

Tensions around Ukraine have escalated in recent months, as Washington and Kyiv’s European allies accuse Russia of threatening the former Soviet country with invasion.

Moscow has demanded wide-ranging security guarantees from Washington and its Nato allies and insists it had been promised that the bloc would not expand to Ukraine and Georgia.

After the negotiations in Geneva on Monday, Russian and US officials offered to keep talking, but there was no breakthrough.

Russia has put intense pressure on Ukraine since 2014 after a revolution overthrew a government that had sided with the Kremlin against closer ties with Europe.

Russia seized the Crimean peninsula and backs an insurgency in eastern Ukraine in which more than 13,000 people have died. — AFP