UN chief tells Putin he is 'deeply concerned' over Ukraine

UN chief tells Putin he is 'deeply concerned' over Ukraine

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
UN chief tells Putin he is deeply concerned over Ukraine

nited Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) speaks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow on March 20. AFP photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 30 that he was deeply concerned over the crisis in Ukraine, which saw Moscow absorb the ex-Soviet country's peninsula of Crimea into Russian territory.

"As the secretary general of the United Nations, I cannot hide but to tell you that I am deeply concerned about the current situation," Ban said at the start of talks in the Kremlin.

"Russia has demonstrated great humanity at that time," he said, thanking Putin for the opportunity to meet for talks in person.

Putin for his part said Russia, which is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, always supported the global body and appreciated Ban's efforts in solving crises.

On Tuesday, Putin signed a hugely controversial treaty with Crimean leaders making Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula part of Russia despite condemnation from Kiev authorities and the West.

The U.N. chief added that he also held talks with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier March 30.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said March 30 he expects to see Lavrov in Europe next week to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

Kerry, who is going to The Hague to meet with European allies, said he thought there would be a meeting with Lavrov on the side. "So hopefully we will see where we are at that point of time," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama is also expected to make a statement on the crisis in Ukraine on March 30, the White House office said.

EU-Russia June summit to be cancelled: Hollande

In Brussels, French President Francois Hollande said Europe's leaders would cancel a June summit with Russia and decide fresh sanctions against Russian figures.

Saying events in Ukraine and Crimea were "unacceptable", the French leader said "sanctions will be decided against a certain number of figures, regarding their personal situation or their financial assets."

"There was to have been a meeting between the EU and Russia but it cannot take place in these conditions," he said, referring to a planned June summit.

"We must also plan other sanctions if there is an escalation," he added.

With the EU's 28 nations divided over whether to ratchet up the bloc's response by agreeing economic sanctions, Hollande said that "even if not decided today, economic sanctions must be discussed, prepared."