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Russia Sees U.S. Proposals on Ukraine Questionable, Drafts its Own Peaceful Settlement Proposal

March 10, 2014

Pro-Russian Crimean soldiers taking an oath of loyalty to Crimea government, March 10, 2014 Participants hold placards and shout slogans during an anti-war rally in the Crimean village of Eskisaray, outside Simferopol March 10, 2014

Russia sees U.S. proposals on Ukraine questionable, drafts own settlement   2014-03-11 04:56:18

  Lavrov said Monday Moscow was not satisfied with U.S. proposals on settling Ukrainian political crisis.  

 Moscow and Washington have remained far apart over the festering crisis in Ukraine.

Lavrov said Moscow has drafted its own document to "put the situation on the basis of international law." 

MOSCOW, March 10 (Xinhua) --

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow was not satisfied with U.S. proposals on settling the Ukrainian political crisis, and has drafted its own document to "put the situation on the basis of international law."

"Our partners suggested proceeding from this situation created by the (Ukrainian) coup," Lavrov briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the host city of ongoing Paralympic Winter Games.

He said the proposals received on Friday contained "a concept which does not quite agree with us because everything was stated in terms of allegedly having a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and in terms of accepting the fait accompli."

Moscow and Washington have remained far apart over the festering crisis in Ukraine, accusing each other of imposing will on the country, which sits at the strategically important juncture between Russia and Europe. Central to their divergence has been the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government, which Russia branded as a coup while the United States and its allies hailed as a victory of democracy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was expected to visit Moscow on Monday, postponed his schedule on Saturday, citing that Washington was drafting the new document.

The diplomatic solution Washington proposed involved direct talks between the governments of Ukraine and Russia; the deployment of international monitors to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; the return of Russian forces to their bases in Crimea; and international support for presidential elections in Ukraine in May.

"Frankly speaking, we have many questions about this (document), " the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

He added that the ministry had prepared, together with members of the Russian Security Council, its counter-proposals for the United States.

"They aim to put the situation on the basis of international law and take into account the interests of all Ukrainians without exception," Lavrov said.

Ukraine descended into a political crisis following its suspension of a political-economic agreement with the European Union in November. The situation continued deteriorating as the pro-Russian parliament in Crimea has scheduled a controversial referendum on March 16 on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia.

Russia has said it would respect the "historic" decision Crimean people would take, while most of Western countries are questioning the legitimacy of the referendum.

Putin, Cameron, Merkel voice common interest over de-escalation of tension in Ukraine   2014-03-10 05:15:26

MOSCOW, March 9, 2014 (Xinhua) --

Russian, British and German leaders have expressed their common interest in de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine despite existing dissent, the Kremlin press service said Sunday.

"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin, (British Prime Minister David) Cameron and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel continued the discussion of an extremely complicated sociopolitical situation in Ukraine, as well as Crimea's referendum, set for March 16," it said.

"The parties expressed common interest in the earliest possible de-escalation of tensions and normalization of the situation," the Kremlin said.

The steps taken by the legitimate Crimean authorities were based on international law and aim to protect the legitimate interests of the population of Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic that has become the epicenter of ongoing political crisis in that country, it quoted Putin as saying.

Putin said the current Ukrainian authorities were "doing nothing to curb the ultra-nationalist and radical forces' outrages committed in Kiev and many other regions."

Meanwhile, the Kremlin admitted that differences existed among the leaders "in the assessment of what's going on" in that East European country.

"They agreed to continue their intensive working contacts, as well as contacts between their countries' foreign-policy chiefs," it said.

The Crimean parliament has voted to join Russia as a federal body, and decided to hold the referendum over its future status on March 16, two weeks earlier than the former plan.

Diplomatic solutions on Ukraine widely urged, U.S. still mulls sanctions against Russia | 2014-03-10 13:56:28 |

Editor: Zhu Ningzhu

BEIJING, March 10 (Xinhua) --

The international community on Sunday called for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing Ukrainian and the establishment of an international contact group.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday discussed the Ukraine crisis in a phone conversation.

Xi said that as the current situation in Ukraine is very complicated and highly sensitive, various factors should be taken into consideration in the handling of the crisis.

He called on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and seek a political solution through dialogue and negotiations within the framework of law and order, so as to avoid further escalation of the situation.

China supports the international community's efforts and mediation, Xi said, voicing the hope that Germany would continue to communicate with other relevant parties and further play a constructive role. China is willing to keep contact with Germany on the issue, he said.

Merkel said Germany hopes for an appropriate solution through dialogue, adding that her country attaches importance to China's role and is willing to strengthen communication with China on the issue.

She also held phone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday and pointed out the urgency of establishing an international contact group, which will find a political way to end the conflict in Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

As Germany's partner in Europe, Britain expressed its will, along with their European and American partners, to work with Russia to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine, including Crimea, through a phone call between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Putin.

Cameron also urged Putin to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support the formation of a "contact group" that could lead to what Britain described as "direct talks between the governments of Russia and Ukraine," according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Putin agreed that a diplomatic solution is in all their interests and he would discuss the proposals on the contact group issue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

While the world calls for diplomatic solutions to the crises, the U.S. are taking steps to impose sanctions on Russia over the latter's recent moves in Ukraine's Crimea.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Sunday applauded the dispatch of additional fighter aircraft for the air patrols in the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, but he said that the additional measures will not deter Russia.

"Some of the sanctions that are being discussed and the actions being taken, whether it's limitations on visas or on travel or on potentially freezing assets of specific individuals, frankly I don't believe are going to be any deterrent for Putin," Gates told host Chris Wallace on Fox News.

The Ukrainian political crisis, which originated from public anger over ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's decision in November last year to put on hold an association agreement with the European Union in order to get the Russian aid, took an abrupt turn last month as a result of bloody clashes between protestors and police.

Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea became the epicenter of an ongoing tension in the East European country.

The Crimean parliament on Thursday voted to join Russia and a referendum on Crimea's status would be held on March 16.

Commenting on the simmering tensions in Crimea, Russia said last Friday that they did not expect a new cold war and the West and Moscow could seek some common ground to solve the Ukraine crisis through dialogue.

Referring to the scheduled referendum on March 16, Russia said it reflected the common will of the Crimean people.


Confrontation in Ukraine as diplomacy stalls

By Andrew Osborn and Natalia Zinets

SEVASTOPOL/KIEV Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:13pm EDT

(Reuters) -

A pro-Russian force opened fire in seizing a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on Monday and NATO announced reconnaissance flights along its eastern frontiers as confrontation around the Black Sea peninsula showed no sign of easing.

Ukrainian activists trying to cross into Crimea to show solidarity with opponents of last week's Russian military takeover there said they were halted by men in uniforms of the now outlawed riot police. One of these fired at close range, hitting a man in the chest, apparently with rubber bullets.

With diplomacy at a standstill, Russia said the United States had spurned an invitation to hold new talks on resolving the crisis, the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War - although Washington said later a meeting of foreign ministers was possible this week, if Moscow shows it is ready to "engage".

The U.S.-led NATO defense alliance said AWACS early warning aircraft, once designed to counter feared Soviet nuclear missile strikes, would start reconnaissance flights on Tuesday over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in Ukraine, flying from bases in Germany and Britain.

The United States on Tuesday will also begin previously planned military training exercises in the region, the first since the Russian intervention in Crimea. A U.S. Navy destroyer will participate in maneuvers with Romanian and Bulgarian warships in the Black Sea, across from Crimea. In Poland, U.S. fighter jets will take part in joint exercises.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Germany's Bild newspaper, however, that Western powers were not considering military action and wanted a diplomatic solution. European Union governments are considering sanctions against Russia.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, who said he would address the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, blamed the crisis on Russia and accused Moscow of undermining the global security system by taking control of Crimea.

Ukraine's new justice authorities issued warrants for the arrest of Crimea's pro-Russia leaders on Monday, six days before a referendum they have called to join the region to Russia.

Russian forces have in little more than a week taken over military installations across Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian territory until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine in 1954.

Pro-Russian separatists have taken control of the regional parliament, declared Crimea part of the Russian Federation and announced a referendum for Sunday to confirm that.

President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is acting to protect the rights of ethnic Russians, who make up a majority of Crimea's population, after Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted last month in what Russia calls a coup.


On Monday, a Ukrainian defense official said a Russian-led military force of about a dozen men fired in the air as they took control of a Ukrainian naval base near the town of Bakhchisaray, though no one was hurt.

The force was accompanied by the base's Ukrainian commander. He persuaded a number of his men to join the Russian forces while allowing others who refused to leave, the Ukrainian official, Vladislav Seleznyov wrote on Facebook. The Russian force later drove off with nine Ukrainian vehicles.

Yarik Alexandrov, one of the Ukrainian naval personnel who refused to pledge allegiance to Moscow, told Reuters near the base that he and his comrades at first refused to surrender. "Then they started shooting round our feet and we surrendered," he said. "What could we do? We had no weapons."

Similar small confrontations have taken place at other Ukrainian bases around Crimea, although shooting has been rare and there has so far been no bloodshed. Russia denies its troops are involved - a stance ridiculed in Kiev and the West.

In a sign of the peninsula's growing isolation from the Ukrainian mainland, armed men prevented a convoy of cars from a Ukrainian activist group crossing into Crimea.

The group was part of the Maidan movement behind the protests that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia. Ukrainian television showed men in the uniform of the Berkut riot police, banned by the new authorities for its role in shooting dozens of demonstrators in Kiev last month, blocking the road south.

One was shown firing twice, hitting a man in the chest. His injuries appeared minor, suggesting the use of rubber bullets.

In other armed action, Russian forces took over a military hospital and a missile unit. Reuters correspondents also saw a big Russian convoy on the move just outside the port city of Sevastopol near a Ukrainian air defense base.

It comprised more than 100 vehicles, including around 20 armored personnel carriers, plus mobile artillery.


Putin says Russia is not controlling events in Crimea, but denials of Russian involvement are rejected by the United States as the two former Cold War enemies wage a geopolitical battle over the future of Crimea and Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Putin that Russia's position on Ukraine remained at odds with the West, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had declined an invitation to visit Russia on Monday for further talks.

"It is all being formulated as if there was a conflict between Russia and Ukraine ... and our partners suggested using the situation created by a coup as a starting point," Lavrov told Putin during talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He did not say why Kerry had postponed the talks.

The State Department said Kerry told Lavrov on Saturday that Washington wanted Moscow to cease its drive to annex Crimea and end "provocative steps". In a statement, it added: "Kerry made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov that he would welcome further discussions focused on how to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine if and when we see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals."

In Kiev, Yatseniuk said he would address the U.N. Security Council during a debate on Ukraine. He is also due to hold talks with the U.S. government that will show Washington's support of the new Ukrainian leadership.

"Russia's policy is aimed at undermining the basis of the global security system and revising the outcome of World War Two," Interfax quoted Yatseniuk as telling reporters.

Western powers have rallied behind Ukraine's new leaders and the World Bank said on Monday it planned to provide up to $3 billion this year to see Kiev through an economic crisis.

U.S. senators are preparing legislation that aides said would be broader than a measure passed last week by the House of Representatives backing $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, and could include sanctions.

Ukraine's crisis was triggered in November by Yanukovich's refusal, under Russian pressure, to sign deals on closer political and trade ties with the European Union.

Although three months of protests against Yanukovich were mostly peaceful, at least 80 demonstrators were killed in clashes after police used force against them, some by sniper fire.

Yanukovich fled Ukraine before a peace deal with the opposition was implemented, and a new national unity government was installed. He is wanted for mass murder in Ukraine and is being sheltered by Russia.


Western countries have denounced the Russian intervention in Crimea and say the borders of Ukraine, a country of 46 million, should remain unchanged. They have said they will not accept the outcome of Sunday's vote.

"The United States is not prepared to recognize any result of the so-called referendum taking place in six days' time," U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said in Kiev. "We are committed to Crimea's status as part of Ukraine. The crisis needs to be solved diplomatically, not militarily."

In the latest military movements, in Sevastopol, where Russia has its Black Sea Fleet base, Russian forces disarmed servicemen at a Ukrainian army missile base, Seleznyov said.

He told Fifth Channel television that about 200 soldiers aboard 14 trucks moved on the building at about 1.30 a.m and threatened to storm it if the Ukrainian soldiers failed to give up their weapons.

In the eastern city of Luhansk, Ukraine's security services said they were investigating the takeover on Sunday of the main administrative building. The region's top official was held captive in a room where he was made to write a letter saying he had resigned, but he later said he was still performing his duties.

(Reporting by Richard Balmforth, Timothy Heritage, Ron Popeski, Alastair Macdonald and Aleksandar Vasovic in Kiev, Alexei Anishchuk in Sochi, Marcin Goettig in Warsaw, and Anna Yukhananov and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Writing by Ron Popeski, Alastair Macdonald and Peter Cooney; Editing by David Stamp and Ken Wills)

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