– Russia will respect the will of Crimean people in referendum – FM Lavrov (Voice of Russia, March 14, 2014):
Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry dedicated to the situation in Ukraine have ended. The Russian FM held a news conference shortly after the meeting where he explained Russia’s stance on the Ukrainian crisis and discussed the outcome of the talks. He assured journalists Russia hadn’t had and has no plans to invade Crimea and added Russia will respect “the declaration of the will of the Crimean people in the coming referendum of March 16”.
Lavrov began his press conference saying that Russia and Western countries still disagree over the situation in Ukraine.
“As to practical measures foreign countries could take, we do not share a common view of the situation, disagreements remain but, of course, the conversation was useful.”
During the press conference Lavrov assured journalists that Russia is not avoiding dialog with Kiev regarding the situation in Ukraine.
“Ukraine has proposed holding the Council of CIS Foreign Ministers, it is currently chairing the CIS, in Kiev in the coming days. We have supported that, in accordance with the procedural regulations, first a meeting of deputy foreign ministers is organized and is held in the CIS headquarters in Minsk but, unfortunately, Ukrainian colleagues have refused this,” Lavrov said.
Sergei Lavrov said Russia had no existing or proposed plans to invade the southeastern regions of Ukraine, at a news conference in London following talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Russia has and can have no plans to invade southeastern regions of Ukraine. We assume that the rights of Russians, the rights of Hungarians, the rights of Bulgarians and Ukrainians should definitely be ensured and should be protected,” he added.
As far as the Crimean referendum is concerned, Russia will respect the Crimean people’s choice, the Russian Foreign Minister said.
“We have confirmed our stance stipulated repeatedly by the Russian president that we will respect the declaration of the will of the Crimean people during the coming referendum of March 16.”
Lavrov called for the international community to urge Ukraine to hold immediate constitutional reform. “The international community, if it treats the fate of Ukraine responsibly, should, first of all, explicitly urge a start to the process of constitutional reform immediately. The Verkhovna Rada could initiate this process by inviting all regions to participate and by ensuring their equal places at the negotiating table,” Lavrov said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry did not make any threats against Russia at the talks but sanctions that Western partners are talking about will not help mutual interests, Sergei Lavrov stressed during the press conference. But he said Russia was part of the information community and knew what was being discussed in Washington and in Europe.
“I’ll be bold enough to assure you that sanctions are a counter-productive instrument and if such a decision is taken in Western capitals, it means it will be their decision,” Lavrov said.
“One thing for sure is that this will not help mutual interests, business interests, the interests of our partnership in general,” he added.