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Russia and U.S. Are Nowhere After 6 Hours of Talks

Posted on Mar 14, 2014

  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov walk across the lawn at Winfield House, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in London, as they hold a one-on-one discussion about de-escalating tensions in Ukraine. State Department photo.

“Direct and candid” is how U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described his conversation with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, who used the word “constructive.”

However both men agreed to disagree, for now. The people of Crimea are voting in a referendum on Sunday to decide whether or not to break away from Ukraine. The United States said it will not recognize any such outcome, but Russia said it will let the people decide. Both countries pledged in a treaty to respect Ukraine’s borders, with Crimea inside Kiev’s territory, in exchange for the former Soviet republic’s nuclear arsenal.

It may seem dispiriting that the two old superpowers are so far apart, but negotiations of this sort are always preferable to insults traded from afar, which is where we were only a few days ago. War, of course, must be avoided at all costs.

Two days ago, President Obama met with Ukraine’s interim prime minister and threatened “costs” if Russia “continues on the path that it is on.”

 

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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