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Ukraine crisis embitters Russia-US ties; Kerry declines to meet Putin

Just days ahead of a referendum scheduled for secession of Crimea, Russia has denounced the US proposals on solution to Ukraine crisis as “not suitable”.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Moscow: In a significant fallout of Ukraine crisis, the relations between US and Russia worsened with the US Secretary of State John Kerry postponing a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to negotiate over the plan to de-escalate the crisis in Crimea.

The rough patch in diplomacy comes just days ahead of a planned referendum that would be held on March 16 to decide on secession of Crimea.

Russia has maintained its grasp on Crimea with over 30,000 (pro-Russian) forces stationed in the Black Peninsula.

Kerry and Putin were scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the US proposals over Ukraine that demand Russia pull back its troops from Crimea and drop the idea of annexing Crimea.

However, Kerry told Lavrov that he wouldn`t be meeting with the Russian leader unless Moscow was ready to engage on the US proposals.

Earlier, Kerry had warned Lavrov that all the doors to diplomacy would be closed if Russia continued with its plan to annex Crimea.

However, after a televised meeting with Putin, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said that the proposals made by Kerry were “not suitable”.

Questioning Kerry`s proposals, Lavrov said that the US was taking "the situation created by the coup (of Viktor yanukovych) as a starting point".

Russia has not accepted the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian government and still considers the ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych as the valid President of the ex-Soviet bloc.

Lavrov said that Russia was ready to receive him but Kerry had delayed the meeting. However in Washington, State Department officials said that it was Russia`s refusal to discuss the American proposals that was hurting prospects for a negotiated solution.

Russia refused to accept the US proposals which demanded the disarming of the pro-Russian "self-defense" militias in Crimea.

Other than urging talks between Ukraine and Russia, the US plan also proposed that international monitors be sent to Crimea and other parts of Ukraine.

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