The talks were opened by U.S. and Russian negotiators in Geneva on Monday. These talks will be followed by Russia/NATO talks in Brussels and an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting in Vienna over the course of this week.
Here's a look at the security talks agenda and main points of contention.
RUSSIAN INVASION FEARS
Concerns in Kyiv and the West have been raised by the recent arrival of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders.
Moscow denied this intention and accused Ukrainian authorities of plotting an offensive to reclaim control of territories in eastern Ukraine that were held by Russia-backed separatists. This is an accusation Ukraine rejects.
The Russian troop buildup was discussed twice by President Joe Biden with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He warned that Moscow would suffer "severe consequences" if it attacks its neighbor.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has also backed the separatist rebellion in the country's eastern region that began the same year. More than 14,000 people have been killed in fighting for their independence in Ukraine over seven years. While sanctions have harmed Russia's economy, the West failed to persuade Moscow that they should change their course.
RUSSIA'S SECURITIES DEMANDS
Putin described the possibility that Ukraine joins NATO and the alliance deploys weapons there as a "redline" for Moscow. The Kremlin requested that Washington and its allies sign a binding commitment to stop NATO's expansion into Ukraine, Georgia, or other ex-Soviet countries.
Moscow also requested that the U.S., its allies, and their allies commit to not deploying weapons or conducting any military activities in Ukraine and other ex Soviet nations.
As a start point for the negotiations this week, the Kremlin presented a draft Russia/U.S. security agreement and a blueprint to a Russia-NATO accord. They would require the alliance to not station troops in areas they were not present in 1997, before NATO began to include ex-Soviet republics and former Soviet bloc members.
Moscow also proposes a freeze on U.S. and Russian naval ships and bombers patrolling near each other's borders. They also call for efforts to decrease the risk of incidents involving Russia or NATO warships, and aircraft, primarily at the Baltic and Black Seas.
U.S. AND NATO REACTION
The U.S. and its allies strongly rejected NATO's request not to admit Ukraine and any other new members. They emphasized that NATO membership is open to all qualifying countries and that no outsiders can veto it.
Although Georgia and Ukraine are not yet ready to be NATO members and don't have any chance of joining soon, their Western allies insist that NATO must continue to open its doors to them. NATO had promised the two countries in 2008 that it would eventually accept them, but has not provided a roadmap to do so.
If Russia backs down on Ukraine, U.S. officials indicated that they are open for discussions about limiting future deployments of missiles in Ukraine. They also suggested that NATO and NATO might limit their military exercises in Eastern Europe.
The White House also urged Russia to create a positive atmosphere for the forthcoming talks by withdrawing its troops from the areas around Ukraine. Moscow dismissed the idea, saying that it can deploy its troops wherever it sees fit on its territory. It also described the buildup as a reaction to NATO's "hostile" moves.
Putin called the U.S.-Russian negotiations a positive move, but he said he wanted quick results. He warned the West not to try to drown Russia's demands with "idle talk."
Putin was asked last month at a news conference if he could assure that Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine. He responded with anger, saying the West must give him guarantees immediately.
Sergei Ryabkov (Russian Deputy Foreign Minister) described the Russian delegation's demand for NATO expansion to Ukraine and other exSoviet countries as "absolutely crucial" and warned that further talks would be futile if the U.S. refused to discuss it.
Ryabkov stated that they are not going there with a hand outstretched, but with a clearly formulated task that must be solved under the conditions we set. He said that Russia would not accept any concessions to pressure or threats, and that talks could end at the first round of negotiations if the U.S. isn't cooperative with its allies.
U.S. suspicions have been raised that Moscow might make unreasonable requests to ensure talks fail and use this as an excuse for more aggressive actions. Russian diplomats deny the claim.
Although Moscow denies any intention to attack Ukraine, Putin warned that he would have to take unspecified military-technical steps if the West refused to comply with his security demands.
He did not elaborate beyond saying that the Russian response to this scenario "could vary" and "will depend upon what proposals my military experts submit me."
Yuri Ushakov, a Kremlin adviser on foreign policy, said that Putin told Biden that Russia would behave just like the U.S. if offensive weapons were deployed near its borders.
Putin noted that Russia's new Zircon hypersonic missile cruise missile could be used to strike at warships in neutral waters. In December, a wave of Zircons was launched to mark the end of testing for the weapon. Putin stated that it flies nine times faster than sound and has a range of over 1,000 km (620 miles).
Putin acknowledged that Russia would have a similar capability to Zircon, despite NATO's concerns about Ukraine.
Putin stated that it would take only five minutes for orders to reach the authorities.