US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an effort to try to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.
In what he described as a “direct” and “candid” discussion, Kerry said he had presented a number of ideas to Lavrov, which the US believes could provide a path forward for all parties.
However, according to Kerry, it became clear that Russia’s President Putin is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday.
What this decision will be is not known but Kerry did say that ratifying the Crimea referendum vote in Russia’s parliament will be a “back door annexation of Crimea”.
The Secretary of State reiterated the view of the US, that this vote will be contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and to international law, saying: “Neither we or the international community will recognise the result of this referendum.”
He expressed his concern about the deployment of troops on the Russia-Ukraine border. In the current climate, he said, it is necessary that Russia makes clear the meaning of its troop deployment on the frontier.
Kerry said he had been clear with Lavrov about the consequences “if Russia doesn’t find a way to change course.” This, Kerry explained, was not a threat but would be a “consequence” of choices Russia may or may not make.
He added that if Russia does establish facts on the ground that threaten the Ukrainian people, it “will beg an even greater cost”.