US and Russia fail to mend fences on Crimea row

US and Russia fail to mend fences on Crimea row

US President Barack Obama had only moments earlier said in Washington that he still held out hope of a diplomatic solution while warning Moscow of “consequences” if none was found.



By (AFP)

Published: Sun 16 Mar 2014, 12:56 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:38 AM

John Kerry shakes hands with Sergei Lavrov before their meeting at Winfield House in London on Friday. — Reuters

The United States and Russia failed on Friday to resolve a Cold-War-style crisis sparked by Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea and the Ukrainian peninsula’s weekend referendum on joining Kremlin rule.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in London with few hopes that Sunday’s Moscow-backed referendum in the strategic Black Sea peninsula that has been seized by Kremlin troops could be averted or delayed.

But US officials indicated that they still expected Moscow to avoid taking the extra step of actually annexing the region of two million mostly Russian speakers in a move that would escalate the biggest East-West showdown since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

Lavrov however told reporters after more than three hours of talks with Kerry at the lavish US ambassador’s residence in central London that Russia and the West still had “no common vision” on Ukraine.

“We have no common vision of the situation,” said Lavrov. “Differences remain.”

Lavrov added that Russia would “respect the will of the Crimean people” in the referendum result.

Kerry was expected to meet reporters later on Friday.

US President Barack Obama had only moments earlier said in Washington that he still held out hope of a diplomatic solution while warning Moscow of “consequences” if none was found.

The self-declared pro-Kremlin head of Crimea who initially called the referendum gave Western negotiators some hope by indicating that he did not expect Russia to annex his region right away.

“It would take a maximum of one year,” Sergiy Aksyonov told reporters in the Crimean capital of Simferopol.

Ukraine itself remained a tinderbox as more than 8,000 Russian troops staged drills near its eastern border while Nato and US reconnaissance aircraft and fighters patrolled the skies of the ex-Soviet state’s EU neighbours to the west.

Kerry has warned Russia that Washington and Europe could announce a “very serious” response as early as Monday if Moscow does not pull back the troops from Crimea.


More news from WORLD