Sitting down with Lavrov were Richard Haass, a former diplomat and the outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations, current and former officials said. Pavel Bednyakov / AFP - Getty ImagesThe former U.S. officials involved either did not respond to requests for comment from NBC News or declined to comment on the record. All of the sources declined to be named in order to confirm talks that were intended to be kept confidential. They come as formal, high-level diplomatic engagements between the U.S. and Russian governments over Ukraine have been few and far between. “Our position is unchanged — the fate of Ukraine cannot be decided without Ukraine.