News / Europe

    Kerry: Russian Troops Near Ukraine Create 'Climate of Fear'

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris, March 30, 2014.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris, March 30, 2014.
    VOA News
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russia Sunday to pull back thousands of troops massed along the Ukraine border, saying those forces are creating a "climate of fear" inside Ukraine that does not support diplomatic dialogue.
     
    Kerry spoke to reporters late Sunday, after four hours of talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Paris.
     
    The U.S. top diplomat said both Moscow and Washington are in agreement on the right of Ukrainians to decide their own future.  He also said both sides made suggestions on how to de-escalate the crisis that was spawned by Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

    But Kerry also stressed that he made clear to Lavrov that  "the United States still considers the Russian actions to be illegal and illegitimate.''
     
    At a separate news conference, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said he has "agreed to work with the Ukrainian government and people to achieve progress in rights of minorities and linguistic rights."
     
    Kerry said he is returning to Washington to confer with President Barack Obama and that more bilateral talks will take place in the near future. But he emphasized that no decisions on Ukraine's future will be made without the input of the Kyiv government.
     
    Moscow has repeatedly sought to assure the West that it has no plans to send its forces into Ukraine, but Lavrov did not offer further comment on the military presence near the eastern and southern Ukraine borders. Nor did he offer further direct comment on proposals for direct talks between Moscow and Kyiv.
     
    U.S. officials estimate Russia has massed 40,000 troops close to Ukraine's borders, while Kyiv says the Russian buildup is closer to 100,000 military personnel. 
     
    Ukraine's immediate neighbors - former Soviet republics that gained independence with the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union - have condemned the Crimean annexation as well as the mounting pressure on Kyiv from the Russian troop presence. 
     
    The United Nations also has condemned the annexation, while the United States and its European allies have begun imposing economic sanctions against Moscow.
     
    Relations between Russia and Ukraine plummeted nearly a month ago, when Russian forces moved into Crimea. A short-notice referendum quickly followed, resulting in a vote declaring the peninsula’s secession from Ukraine and move toward integration with Russia.
     
    Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian parliament subsequently annexed Crimea, making it part of the Russian Federation.

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    Comments
         
    by: Boltar from: Scandinavia
    March 31, 2014 12:40 AM
    There were no such thing as a post cold war, it was just an illusion. Meanwhile the russians had time to lick their wounds, gain money from west to rebuild a new modern russian army. Like the rise of the Fenix bird in greek mythologhy.

    by: danglan from: Vietnam
    March 30, 2014 7:26 PM
    US need makes a new cold War era for Russia. It is best.

    by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
    March 30, 2014 12:31 PM
    None of BRICS supports this so called UN resolution.
    If India, China and Brazile don't support this resolution, then it's not overwhelming.
    VOA why didn't you report this? Oh, it's a propaganda machine only!

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 30, 2014 12:04 PM
    Crimea, a separate part of the Russian state, just like Alaska? That's good for the superpowers. USA should tell us how it gained Alaska over Canada, even as we know our history as concerns the southern border with Mexico. No talking! Lavrov says Russia has no further intentions inside Ukraine but at the same times tells Kerry Russia wants true federalism in Ukraine that will accord the regional units greater autonomy. If this is not achieved, Russia's mission in the region continues to run riot like a bastard electron. From Lavrov's comment: "I don't want to say that sanctions are ridiculous and that we couldn't care less, these are not pleasant things'', if I underline the word 'ridiculous', I should think I have made all the meaning that Lavrov is trying to convey to his audience without trying to be harsh - if only polite insult. I feel also there is something in between that pains Lavrov inside how the US is playing its card; and that may not be too far from seeking a reciprocity of Russia's benevolence over Syria and Iran, to be compensated in Ukraine. At pain here means Russia does not as yet understand how selfish and self centered USA can be in breaking bonds and compromises if someone's (Obama's, Kerry's, or Rice's) job has to be on the line on account. Unless the meeting at the Russian embassy in Paris finds a compromise, the Russian hope for a diplomatic solution may change. These are things formerly discussed over phones, but the likes of Edward Snowden and Julie Assange have badly dented that system so that meetings now have resumed their supremacy. At the end of the day, the solution will be a function of reason, and I think once again Lavrov will be able to show the USA the way out of what the US authorities see right now as a dilemma. After all it has taken Russia little or nothing so far to shift the argument from Crimea to East Ukraine, Diplomatically also, Lavrov is expected to be able to guide Kerry through the diplomatic route to the favorable solution that can make everyone to respect Russian diplomacy. So far we can count on diplomatic victory that the superpowers are talking with their mouth not through the barrel of their guns. We hope it remains so - that is, when USA pays its debt of compromises to Russia and allow the sleeping dog to lie.

    by: michael wind
    March 30, 2014 9:41 AM
    lavrov does not care about some of the miniscule ideal sanctions of some folks,......russia will protect russians living in ukraine and yes there are troops in ukraine to protect russian gas lines,.......when russia is ready it will be fast.

    by: Traian Basescu from: Bucharest
    March 30, 2014 9:30 AM
    Alaskans should hold a referendum,
    then Hawaii,
    then ...

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