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John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov Meet to Discuss Russian Plans
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Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian counterpart Sergey V. Lavrov about the plans Russia has for Ukraine, but that meeting ended inconclusively, according to the New York Times.

“We don’t have a common vision of the situation,” Lavrov said. “Our differences remain.”

  
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Lavrov would not say if Russia would move to recognize Crimea as an independent state or to have it become part of the Russian Federation. Lavrov did say that the plan is to “respect the choice” of the voters on Sunday, which is President Vladimir Putin’s plan.

“It makes no sense to speculate at this point,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Lavrov also brushed off discussions of sanctions from President Barack Obama and other European countries. Lavrov said that Kerry “made no threats regarding Russia.” He went on to say that the sanctions reported in the media would be “a counterproductive instrument. This will definitely not help our mutual interest,” he said.

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On Friday, Putin spoke with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by phone. Putin reiterated that the decision to hold a referendum on the state of Crimea “fully complies with international law and the United Nations Charter.”

Ban said, “I urge all concerned to avoid provocation and hasty decisions in the coming days. The focus must be to engage in direct dialogue aimed at agreeing on specific measures that will pave the way towards a diplomatic solution.”



Reports of human rights violations throughout Ukraine, including Crimea, will be investigated by monitors.

“Warning signs about systemic human rights violations were neglected for many years, including the concerns and recommendations of international human rights bodies,” said Ivan Simonovic, the assistant secretary for human rights. “There are serious concerns about the weakness of rule of law institutions, lack of accountability and ensuing impunity for human rights violations. Reports of torture and ill-treatment are also numerous.”

A group of eight United States senators traveled to Kiev’s Independence Square, where the protests are occurring, as a show of support for the interim government. The group was led by John McCain and Richard Durbin. McCain is the republican senator from Arizona and Durbin is a democrat from Illinois. The group laid flowers on a memorial that once was a barricade.

“It’s pretty sobering to come here,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican. “I saw the bullet holes in the lamp posts. It speaks to the great determination of the Ukrainian people. And that determination will be needed in the coming weeks and months.”

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