US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his first visit to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in early 2014.
Mr Putin's spokesman called the visit a "positive step" and said the Russian leader was prepared for "extensive" discussions at the meeting in Sochi. Mr Kerry was first meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
The West accuses Russia of arming rebels in eastern Ukraine and sending troops there - charges Moscow denies. More than 6,000 people have been killed since fighting began in April 2014 between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The conflict followed Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine.
For President Obama to send his top envoy all the way to Sochi is significant. That the Kremlin has now called the visit positive and said President Putin is ready to discuss a wide range of issues with him is even more important.
John Kerry has not visited Russia since relations plunged into a deep freeze over Ukraine. It now looks as though both sides are hoping that Tuesday's talks are a chance to explore where they have common ground.
US need to find a way for Russia not too loose face as the stand offs have as we all know brought nothing but losses for all parts in specially for Ukraine and Europe.
Helsinki Think Tank dreams...
HTT senior council Spokesman NATO ret. Admiral Peter Kikareas and HTT Chairman Mike Hulden have long been of the opinion that both US and Russia has more to gain together than against each other. There is a much deeper cultural bond between the two than most would actually think is the case.
A ideal legacy would naturally be for US to ask Russia to share NATO ! That way the western world could sleep well and trade would be double the size for everyone.
Ukrainian independence would be at their own costs and they would have to join EU at no discount or loan. We have already seen what a slack EU can do to for instance Greece.
Can we in EU really afford such EU idiocracy to continue ?
The question is no. And the US needs stronger alliance and not to alienate Russia to form more alliances with China and India because that's something that no one in the west can hold up against in the long run. Fact is that we run out of fund while India and China is getting richer.
This deserves a fair thought by both Russia and US as Russia's gain would be in a different way than just plain trade. It would give geopolitical supremacy in areas where a NATO backing would be of greatest importance.
Mr Putin's spokesman said the Russian leader was prepared to discuss conflict zones, in other words, the wars in Ukraine and Syria - but said it was not up to Russia to raise the issue of Western sanctions. There's an air of expectation on both sides about this meeting, but also realism. One Russian deputy foreign minister described the agenda as complicated and not improving - which suggests a long, hard slog.