5:55 am - Thursday December 14, 2017

Secretary of State John Kerry calls Lavrov on Ukraine before London meeting

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Ahead of their key meeting in London, Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to express concern over the referendum in Crimea, warning there will be costs if Russia continues to take escalatory steps.

“Kerry spoke briefly with Lavrov this morning in advance of their meeting in London tomorrow. He provided an update on the constructive meetings Prime Minister Yatsenyuk had while he was in Washington,” a Senior State Department official said.

“In addition, he reiterated the United States’ concern about the upcoming referendum, and made clear there will be costs if Russia continues to take escalatory steps,” the official said on condition on anonymity, as the White House reiterating that it is for a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian problem.

“Russia has already incurred costs because of the actions Russia has already taken. Russia will incur additional costs because of the actions Russia has already taken. Should Russia continue down the path that it is currently on and move forward with an attempt to annex Crimea or to in other ways continue to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, there will no doubt be additional costs,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.

Mr. Carney’s comments came ahead of a last attempt by Kerry to head off a confrontation over Crimea, which holds a vote on Sunday on whether to break off from Ukraine and perhaps join Russia. Mr. Kerry will meet Mr. Lavrov in London to discuss the matter.

Mr. Carney warned that further escalation would result in more problems for Russia and clearly for Ukraine, and that would not be good for the region or the world.

“We’re working very hard on an effort to make clear to the Russians that we understand they have concerns and interests in Ukraine, and making clear that there is a way for those concerns and interests to be addressed and protected through the utilisation of international monitors and through dialogue with the Ukrainian government,” he said.

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