US-Russian Talks Fail As Russia Moves More Troops To Ukraine Border
Talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have failed to make any headway into quelling the crisis between Ukraine and Russia. This comes as new estimates believe the Russians have amassed 50,000 troops at the Ukrainian-Russian border, though Russia still claims they are for training purposes only. According to Kerry and Lavrov, both want a peaceful solution. Earlier today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office claimed that Putin committed to withdrawing some troops from the border, though the Kremlin has not confirmed this.
Four hours of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart failed to break a tense East-West deadlock over how to proceed on the Ukraine crisis, though the two men agreed the situation requires a diplomatic solution.
The talks came hours after a leading Ukrainian military analyst told Fox News there are now about 50,000 Russian troops within several hours of the two nations’ border, but there has been a “general decrease in tensions” since Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama on Friday.
Sitting face-to-face but not seeing eye-to-eye on any of the most critical issues, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov advanced far different proposals on how to calm tensions and de-escalate the situation, particularly as Russia continues to mass troops along its border with the former Soviet republic. As he called for Moscow to begin an immediate pullback of the troops, Kerry also ruled out discussion of Russia’s demand for Ukraine to become a loose federation until-and-unless Ukrainians are at the table.
“The Russian troop buildup is creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine,” Kerry told reporters at the home of the U.S. ambassador to France after the meeting, which was held at the Russian ambassador’s residence and included a working dinner. “It certainly does not create the climate that we need for dialogue.”
The U.S. believes the massing of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, ostensibly for military exercises, along the border is at once an attempt to intimidate Ukraine’s new leaders after Russia’s annexation of the strategic Crimean peninsula and to use a bargaining chip with the United States and the European Union, which have condemned Crimea’s absorption into Russia and imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials.
Kerry noted that even if the troops remain on Russian soil and do not enter Ukraine, they create a negative atmosphere.
“The question is not one of right or legality,” he said. “The question is one of strategic appropriateness and whether it’s smart at this moment of time to have troops massed on the border.”