World

Top US, Russian diplomats meet in Paris, seek way to ease tensions sparked by Ukraine crisis

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks across the Seine on the Pont des Arts walking bridge on his way to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Quai d'Orsay, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, in Paris, France, Monday Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks across the Seine on the Pont des Arts walking bridge on his way to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Quai d'Orsay, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, in Paris, France, Monday Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, at the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war when they meet Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, at the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war when they meet Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talk as they walk together on the grounds of the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talk as they walk together on the grounds of the Chief of Mission Residence in Paris, France, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. The top U.S. and Russian diplomats are hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's revolution and civil war. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are meeting Tuesday in Paris, hoping to find a way to begin reversing a yearlong spike in tensions stemming from Ukraine's civil war.

The formula for improved relations is simple: an easing of Western sanctions in exchange for an end to Russia's destabilization of its neighbor. Getting there has been far from easy.

There are some causes for optimism, however. Most Russian troops appear to have left the scene of the fiercest fighting between Ukrainian government forces and separatist rebels, according to Ukrainian military officials. And with economic penalties beginning to bite in Russia, President Vladimir Putin is heading to Milan, Italy, for talks with Ukraine's president and European Union leaders later this week.