US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have begun the latest round of Ukraine crisis talks.
The pair appeared before reporters for a ceremonial handshake before heading off to renew their discussions.
An unusually frank Nato Secretary General issued an unequivocal warning on the course of events should Russia attack Latvia or Estonia.
The West responds with sanctions and closer political ties with Ukraine as Russia's President seals the annexing of Crimea to much fanfare.
Supporters of the controversial fracking industry believe shale gas could be America's most potent weapon in the stand-off with Russia.