March 31, 2014 - 14:43 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks on Sunday, March 30, about ways to defuse the crisis over Ukraine, with Kerry telling Moscow that progress depended on a Russian troop pullback from Ukraine's borders, Reuters reported.
"Both sides made suggestions of ways to de-escalate the security and political situation in and around Ukraine," Kerry told a news conference late on Sunday after meeting with Lavrov for four hours in Paris.
"Any real progress in Ukraine must include a pullback of the very large Russian force that is currently massing along Ukraine's borders," Kerry said. "We believe these forces are creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine. It certainly does not create the climate that we need."
While there were no outlines of an agreement, the two sides agreed to keep talking and both said the Ukrainian government had to be part of the solution.
"Neither Russia, nor the United States, nor anyone else can impose any specific plans on Ukrainians," Lavrov told a separate briefing as quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.
Washington is adamant that there could be "no decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine," Kerry told reporters, adding the United States saw its role as creating conditions for negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.
The United States and European Union have issued two rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes on some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, to punish Moscow over its seizure of Crimea, a Russian-majority Black Sea peninsula.
Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia in a March 16 referendum dismissed as a sham by Western governments that say it violated Ukraine's constitution and was held only after Russian forces seized control of the region.
"The U.S. and Russia have differences of opinion about events that led to this crisis, but both of us recognize the importance of finding a diplomatic solution and simultaneously meeting the needs of the Ukrainian people," Kerry said.