Ukraine latest: US Secretary of State John Kerry threatens ‘serious steps’ over Crimea vote, as key talks loom in London

The comments come days before a referendum to decide whether the contentious Crimean peninsula remains in Ukraine

the united nations

In his sternest words yet, the US Secretary of State has warned Russia that failure to accept a diplomatic compromise in the stand-off over Crimea will open Moscow up to a new “very serious series of steps” against it by Europe and the United States.

John Kerry was speaking in Washington before flying to London where he will meet today with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to plead again for a change of tack by Russia following its de facto seizure of control of Crimea earlier this month. He warned that if Russia did not accept a diplomatic compromise ahead of Crimea’s planned referendum on breaking away from Ukraine on Sunday, then the US and Europe would begin to take punitive measures “as early as Monday” of next week. He said he hoped  “ reason would prevail”.

“My hope is they [Russia] will become aware of the fact that the international community is really strongly united,” he said. He said he would suggest to Mr Lavrov that Russia agree to “something short of a full annexation”.

 

Addressing the UN Security Council in New York, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, noted that his country faced a threat from none other than one of its own five permanent members.

“It is absolutely and entirely unacceptable in the 21st century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground,” he said, speaking mostly in English.

A poster in Crimea presents a stark choice - Nazism, or Russia - to voters ahead of the referendum A poster in Crimea presents a stark choice - Nazism, or Russia - to voters ahead of Sunday's referendum
Pleading for a peaceful end to the crisis, he later switched to Russian and looked directly across the chamber to Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN. “I would like to address Russia,” he began. “We are looking for an answer to the question whether the Russians want war … I am convinced Russians do not want war and I hope the Russian government will heed the wishes of its people and return to the table and to dialogue to resolve this conflict.”

More jarringly, Mr Yatsenyuk appeared to signal something close to regret in the current circumstances that Ukraine had given up its nuclear arsenal after independence in the early Nineties. “We gave up one of the biggest arsenals of nuclear weapons,” he said. “ After this it would be very difficult to convince anyone in the globe not to have nuclear weapons.”

While there is scant hope that Russia can be persuaded to put off or scrap the referendum, Washington remains deeply anxious to pre-empt whatever it is planning next.

In Kiev, the acting President of Ukraine, Olexander Turchinov, said that Russia had amassed its forces along Ukraine’s eastern border and was “ready to invade”. But he said he still hoped that would not happen. “All of  civilised humanity supports our country,” he said.

“All the leading countries of the world are on the side of Ukraine, and I am sure that this united effort in the international arena, bringing together all democratic countries, can still allow us to halt this aggression.”

Pro-Russian forces dubbed the Pro-Russian forces dubbed the "military forces of the autonomous republic of Crimea" during their swearing-in ceremony in Simferopol.
Mr Kerry didn’t elaborate on what new steps might be taken next week, but some would be triggered just by the referendum, he said. “In addition, if there is no sign [of Russian compromise] there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here,” he said.

Meanwhile, at least one person was killed in clashes between pro- and anti-Moscow demonstrators in the city of Donetsk.

Read more:  ‘We will stand with Ukraine’ says Barack Obama
Tatars of Crimea fear a return to the bad old days of the Stalin era
From guns to TV cameras: how a media battle is inflaming the crisis in Crimea
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Sport
Fabian Delph celebrates his goal
footballChristian Benteke and Fabian Delph turn semi-final after Liverpool goal
Life and Style
Model wears: top £29.50, leggings £25, jacket £29.50, bag £25, all marksandspencer.com
fashion
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary
music
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace