Mar 31, 2014

By Jane Brown

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Russia to pull its troops back from the Ukrainian border.  Kerry met yesterday in Paris with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to address the crisis in Ukraine.  But four hours of talks failed to break a tense East-West deadline over how to proceed.  Kerry and Lavrov introduced various proposals on how to calm tensions and de-escalate the situation.  The main concern for the West is Russia’s continual massing of troops along its border with Ukraine.  This action is being seen as an attempt to intimidate Ukraine’s new leaders after Russia’s annexation of the strategic Crimean peninsula and to use a bargaining chip with the United States and the European Union, which have condemned Crimea’s absorption into Russia and imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials.  Even if the troops remain on Russian soil and do not enter Ukraine, Kerry says they create a negative atmosphere.

In Washington meantime, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. refused to absolutely rule out another military move under close questioning from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos:  Can you state unequivocally that Russian troops will not push into Eastern Ukraine?

Sergey Kislyak:  What we have said so many times is that we have no intent, no interest, in crossing the border.

Stephanopoulos:  But does that mean you won’t do it?

Kislyak:  Well, we are not planning to

Kislyak said he “hopes” for a diplomatic solution to the crisis between his nation and Ukraine.  “It’s something we’ve been trying to work on for quite a long period of time.  We understand what can be of help to the Ukrainian people.”

“Because the biggest problem, and you need to remember this, is not between Ukraine and Russia,” he explained.  “It’s between Ukrainian, uh, uh … temporary government and the rest of the country.”

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