Ukraine crisis: Ukraine does not work as ‘unified’ state warns Sergey Lavrov after talks with John Kerry break up

US Secretary of State was on the way home from the Middle East when he abruptly turned plane around to meet Mr Lavrov in Paris

The US and Russia failed to reach a deal on how to resolve the Crimean crisis after four hours of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Kerry said he had made clear to Mr Lavrov during the “frank” meeting that Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory was “ illegal and illegitimate”.

Mr Lavrov, speaking separately, said Ukraine could not function as a “unified” state and should turn into a loose federation of regions instead with each able to choose their own official religion, language and economic policies.

The build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine has prompted concern that they might invade, purportedly to protect the Russian-speaking population in the east of the country. The same reason was given when they moved into Crimea after the Moscow-leaning former President, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted.

Mr Kerry said he had raised “strong concerns” about the presence of Russian forces so close to Ukraine, which he said created a climate of fear and intimidation.

Mr Lavrov said the talks with Mr Kerry on Sunday night in Paris had been “very, very constructive”.

 

He said he and Kerry agreed to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarming “irregular forces and provocateurs”.

“We have agreed to work with the Ukrainian government and people to achieve progress in rights of minorities and linguistic rights,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency. He also said Russia and the United States had agreed it was necessary to seek “points of tangency” in order to reach a common position on the diplomatic resolution of the crisis.

Even as the diplomatic push got under way, several west European governments, including Britain, continued to express alarm about the Russian troop build-up and said they stood ready to deploy forces and equipment to eastern European members of Nato, notably the Baltic states, in case the situation should deteriorate further.

“Nobody should be in any doubt to our resolve to live up to our commitments under the Nato treaty,” Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, told the BBC, referring to the understanding that an attack on one Nato member would always be seen as an attack on all of them.  “We are looking at opportunities to increase participation in planned Nato exercises as another way of reassuring our Nato allies.”

Read more: Putin 'wants to regain Finland' for Russia
'Russia threatened countries ahead of vote'
Putin calls Obama as Russia positions troops along border
Obama warns Russia 'must pull back troops' from Ukraine border

The Paris meeting came after a surprise phone call late on Friday night from Russian President Vladimir Putin to President Barack Obama, the first time the two men had spoken directly since the imposition of financial and travel restrictions by the US and the European Union on Russia.  While the interpretations of that conversation offered by the Kremlin and the White House diverged starkly, it offered some hope of a diplomatic end to the stand-off.

Before the talks, Mr Lavrov played down the sanctions. “I don’t want to say that sanctions are ridiculous and that we couldn’t care less, these are not pleasant things,” he told Russian television.

 “We find little joy in that, but there are no painful sensations. We have lived through tougher times.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Russian Ambassador's residence for a meeting to discuss Ukraine U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Russian Ambassador's residence for a meeting to discuss Ukraine

As part of any deal, the US would expect Russia to begin pulling back about 40,000 troops thought to have been deployed close to Ukraine, to disarm the militia that entered and took control of Crimea and to open talks with Ukraine. International observers would also be deployed inside Ukraine and Crimea to monitor tensions.

So far the US has said little publicly about the notion of turning Ukraine into a federation beyond saying that no constitutional changes could be imposed without the consent of its people.

But Mr Lavrov suggested that the US was not against the federal solution. “We can’t see any other way to ensure the stable development of Ukraine but to sign a federal agreement,” he said, adding that he understood the US was open to the idea.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary