Russia says has no plans to invade eastern Ukraine
LONDON / WASHINGTON - Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a photograph before their meeting at Winfield House, the home of the U.S. ambassador in London March 14, 2014.Russia has no plans to invade southeastern Ukraine but the Kremlin will respect the result of the upcoming referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.
Speaking after several hours of talks in London with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov there was still no common vision with the West over Ukraine and that Russia needed no international structure to help it mediate with Kiev.
"We will respect the expression of the will of the Crimean people in in the upcoming referendum," Lavrov told reporters at a briefing at the residency of the Russian Ambassador to London.
"The Russian Federation does not and cannot have any plans to invade the southeastern regions of Ukraine," Lavrov said.
Crimea means more to Russia than the Falklands mean to Britain, Lavrov said.
Obama says still hopes for diplomatic solution to Ukraine crisis
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday he still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis heading into a pivotal weekend.
Obama, meeting Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the Oval Office, reiterated to reporters that there would be consequences should Russia refuse to loosen its grip on the Crimea region of southern Russia.
Crimea's pro-Russia parliament has scheduled a referendum on Sunday to decide whether the region should be annexed by Russia.
"We continue to hope that there is a diplomatic solution to be found," Obama said.
"But the United States and Europe stands united, not only in its message about the Ukrainian sovereignty but also that there will be consequences if, in fact, that sovereignty continues to be violated," he said.