Ukraine shouldn`t be `pawn`: Kerry, Lavrov
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine should not be a "pawn" in a power struggle between East and West, but allowed that significant differences between Washington and Moscow could hurt efforts to prevent that.
Paris: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday Ukraine should not be a "pawn" in a power struggle between East and West, but allowed that significant differences between Washington and Moscow could hurt efforts to prevent that.
In unscripted remarks to reporters before meeting in Paris, Kerry and Lavrov said Moscow and Washington agree that Ukraine should be a peaceful, stable and prosperous bridge between Russia and Europe.
Kerry said the US wanted to see Russia embrace Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko`s desire to reach out to all Ukrainians, including ethnic Russians.
"This is an opportunity, we hope, for Russia, the United States and others, all to come together in an effort to try to make a Ukraine that is strong economically, whose sovereignty is respected, whose independence is respected but clearly is not a pawn in a tug-of-war between other nations," Kerry said.
In his inaugural speech on Saturday in Kiev, Poroshenko is expected to lay out new proposals to end the crisis with a call for a limited duration ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists that the West accuses Moscow of supporting, an amnesty for those involved in the fighting, and greater autonomy for eastern Ukraine where the recent violence has hit hardest.
A senior US, official said Kerry had encouraged Lavrov to make the case to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Poroshenko`s proposals are a serious effort to resolve the situation and should be accepted. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly about the private meeting.
Ukraine, Kerry said, should "rather (be) an independent sovereign country with the integrity of its borders and people able to act as a bridge between East and West, with trade and involvement with all parties, that`s our hope," he said.
"We hope that with Russia, together we have the ability to be able to find a way to cooperate on how to make this happen," Kerry continued. "That`s our hope. There obviously are difficulties; we understand that. That`s why we are meeting today to talk about them."
Kerry spoke first. Lavrov appeared taken slightly aback by the secretary`s statement.
But Lavrov offered his own brief comments in English, ending with a clear jab at US policies in Iraq, Libya and Syria.