UK & World News

  • 30 March 2014, 22:48

US And Russia Agree On Diplomatic Solution

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have agreed to find a diplomatic solution to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis.

The pair held four hours of talks in Paris in a bid to end the worst East-West stand-off since the end of the Cold War.

Tensions have grown over Russia's military build-up on Ukraine's borders, sparking fears Moscow may try to seize more ex-Soviet territory following its annexation of Crimea.

Mr Kerrytold a news conference he and Mr Lavrovdiscussed possible ways to end the stalemate.

He said Russia's actions in Crimea were "illegal and illegitimate" and Ukraine needs to be at the table for negotiations.

He also raised "strong concerns" about the presence of Russian troops on the Ukraine border, which he said were creating a climate of fear and intimidation.

On Saturday night, several hundred people in Crimea celebrated their switch from Ukraine to Moscow time - finalising the peninsular's incorporation into Russia.

Earlier, Mr Lavrovtried to ease tensions by saying his country has "absolutely no intention" of sending in what Kiev's government estimates are 100,000 troops gathered on Ukraine's eastern borders.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned US President Barack Obama for the first time since the crisis began.

Mr Obama spent last week touring Europe in a bid to reassure his Nato allies.

The US announced on Sunday it is giving Moldova $10m (6.1m) to strengthen security on its border with Ukraine.

Part of Moldova's eastern border is occupied by the breakaway Russian-speaking region of Transdniestria.

Moscow's absorption of Crimea has raised fears Russia could make similar moves in other ex-Soviet states with separatist regions.

Mr Lavrov said in a TV interview on Saturday that "Chisinau (Moldova's capital) and the new Ukrainian authorities have practically organised a blockade" of Transdniestria.

"What's more, the European Union and, as I understand it, the United States, encourage such a line," he said.