West Warns Russia of 'Very Serious' Consequences
Published: March 14, 2014 (Issue # 1801)
As Sunday's referendum in Crimea looms, the West has multiplied its diplomatic efforts to prevent Russia's annexation of the peninsula while preparing sanctions in case Russia does not backtrack.
Talk of sanctions against Russia come amid President Vladimir Putin's efforts to deflect his country's blame for the crisis.
In a meeting with the permanent members of Russia's Security Council on Thursday, which was attended by high-level Russian dignitaries including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin said Russia was not to be blamed for the crisis in Ukraine.
Putin also told national Paralympic association officials in Sochi that Russia was not "an instigator" of the crisis in Crimea and thanked the delegations for keeping the games politics-free.
While Russian authorities have been downplaying blame and anticipating the addition of an 84th federal subject to the country, the U.S. is busy intensifying its eleventh-hour diplomatic efforts to prevent Russia from annexing the Ukrainian republic.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in London on Friday at the request of U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss proposals on how to resolve the crisis.
On Thursday, Kerry told a Senate committee that Moscow should expect immediate consequences if it accepts and acts on the upcoming referendum.
"If there is no sign of Russian compromise, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here," Kerry said in comments carried by The Associated Press.
According to a U.S. State Department press statement, Kerry's meeting with Lavrov, their third in the last two weeks, will serve as a stage to "continue to reaffirm the U.S.' unwavering support for Ukrainian sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation by Russia."
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