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
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 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 "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.
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...