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THE HAGUE, March 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine was in the focus of discussion at the nuclear security summit in The Hague on Monday. The situation in the country and Russia’s actions regarding Crimea were considered, in particular, at meetings of G7 leaders and talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Russian minister also held the first meeting with Ukrainian Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia.
According to Lavrov, the conversation was held upon President Vladimir Putin’s instruction to maintain working contacts with Kiev’s representatives. “Deshchytsia asked for a meeting, we discussed the current affairs and tasks that, in our view, we should take into account for overcoming the Ukrainian internal crisis,” the Russian minister noted. “These are first of all affairs of Ukrainians themselves.” “We told him what steps, in or view, should be taken by the leaders appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) to finally establish an adequate nationwide dialogue,” he said.
Deshchytsia for his part stated at a separate news conference that Russia and Ukraine “will be able to get along in the future, however, Kiev does not intend to cede Crimea”. “We will continue active efforts in interaction with our international partners with the aim of restoration of control over Crimea,” he said and announced readiness for negotiations (in the format of any contact group for the crisis settlement.” Deshchytsia also promised Western reporters that Kiev would no longer cut electric power supply to Crimea.
Sergei Lavrov also met his counterpart from the United States. John Kerry said that American authorities were still deeply concerned about the massing of Russian troops near Ukrainian border. US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, speaking in Washington on the negotiations’ results, added that the US Secretary of State also expressed concern regarding reports about disappearance of Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea. The spokesperson did not specify the answer given to Kerry.
Harf called the conversation between Lavrov and Deshchytsia a positive sign. She stressed it was good that the dialogue had started. Although it would be yet necessary to see what actions would follow, including Russia’s steps, she added.
The Russian minister of foreign affairs reported that common ground had been found, in particular, on the constitutional reform that would take into account the interests of all Ukrainian regions. “It seems to me that there is understanding on the constitutional reform with the American colleagues,” he noted. “We cannot thrust this on Ukrainian politicians. However, this is how we assess the situation that has formed there. It would be very difficult to overcome the deep internal Ukrainian crisis without that.” “It seems to me that John Kerry has at least has displayed the understanding of the need to ‘push’ the fulfillment of the arrangement that were laid down in the February 21 agreement,” the minister added. “It would be perhaps right if this really happens and those who currently head the Verkhovna Rada and who formed the cabinet would pay the most serious attention to this. Meanwhile, far from all the things that had been agreed upon have been fulfilled: illegal armed groups have not been disarmed, all seized buildings have not been vacated and squares have not been fully unblocked.”
A meeting of the leaders of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan was also held on the sidelines of The Hague nuclear security summit. They published the final declaration on its results that says that the G7 is “ready to intensify actions including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation.”
It is interesting that the G7 leaders have failed to invent a method to suspend Russia’s membership in the G8, because such a procedure simply does not exist. As a result, the G7 announced it the final declaration that it would “suspend our participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion.”
Sergei Lavrov did not dramatize the situation. “If our Western partners believe that this format has exhausted itself, let it be. We are not clinging to it. We don’t think it would be a big trouble if it does not gather. Maybe, as an experiment we could wait and see for one year or a year and a half how life without it goes,” he stated.
As the Russian minister noted, many believe that the G8 has already played its role, because with the formation of the G20 all economic and financial issues are discussed in the G20.
At the same time Lavrov rejected media speculations that Australia that is presiding in the G20 might refuse to invite the RF leadership to the G20 summit that is schedule for this November in Brisbane.
The minister stressed that it was not Australia that was creating the G20, this format was created collectively. He stressed that his colleagues from other states of the BRICS (bringing together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that held their own meeting in The Hague had shared his position on this issue. “The ministers noted with concern the recent media statement on the forthcoming G20 summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014. The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all member-states equally and no one member-state can unilaterally determine its nature and character,” BRICS member said in a statement.