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February 28, (ITAR-TASS). U.S. hopes Ukrainians will be able to settle the situation in Crimea on their own without outside interference of any kind, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday at a news conference after talks with Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Kerry said he had spoken earlier in the day with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who assured him that Moscow would respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
He said Lavrov and he had discussed the current very tense situation in Crimea, the only region in the country where ethnic Russians make up more than 54% of the population and the share of Ukrainians does not exceed 25%.
Kerry indicated that Lavrov told him, among other things, the Russian military exercise that was kicked off Wednesday had been planned long in advance. Also, he confirmed President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that Russia would respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
He added however that these were only words for the time being and practical actions or subsequent decisions would matter much more.
At any rate, he said, the U.S. believes its essential now to avoid any provocations.