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Russia's foreign minister: US supports Minsk agreements but interprets them its own way

May 18, 2015, 18:52 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The two sides had different understanding of concrete provisions of the Minsk document of February 12 and in concrete tasks facing the working [sub]groups that were set up in Minsk on May 6
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry (archive)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry (archive)

© EPA/ Sean Dempsey

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. The United States fully supports the implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine but seeks to interpret them its own way, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily posted on its website on Monday.

"The essence of our conversation [with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Sochi on May 12] was to find some common denominators," the minister said. "I’d say it did not take long to do that because both Russia and the United States support full and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements. But, as it often happens, the devil is in the detail - in the concrete provisions of the Minsk document of February 12, in concrete tasks facing the working [sub]groups that were set up in Minsk on May 6. And here, we had different understanding of concrete tasks."

"Having spent so much time and effort of the four countries’ numbers one in Minsk on February 12, we proceeded from the necessity of strict following the sequence of actions that was committed to paper in the Minsk package of measures on the implementation of settlement tasks," Lavrov stressed. "Actually, not merely the sequence but also the essence of corresponding agreements."

The Americans, according to the Russian foreign minister, have "somewhat different interpretation of those documents, although these documents are absolutely unambiguous about the right things agreed with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, agreed with his representatives in the Contact Group."

"As a matter of fact, there is nothing to debate about," Lavrov underscored.

Russia hopes US will take steps to resume cooperation

Lavrov said he hoped that Washington would take steps to resume bilateral cooperation following US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Sochi last week.

The issues raised by Kerry at talks with the Russian leadership, including Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and many others, "mean that it is very difficult to resolve them without Russia," Lavrov said.

"Attempts to isolate Russia have failed," he said.

Lavrov expressed appreciation to his US counterpart for the visit. "Certainly, we talked about relations between Russia and the United States," he said, adding that Russia was ready to fulfil all of its commitments made, including those relating to bilateral cooperation.

He recalled that some 21 working groups had been established before within a presidential commission to discuss current issues of economic, humanitarian and international security cooperation.

"It is clear that when two countries such as the United States and Russia stop talking about all these issues, their decisions logically encounter more difficulties," he said. "We have sensed our partners’ interest in boosting cooperation, or rather resuming cooperation in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and proliferation of various types of weapons of mass destruction."

"I hope that after analysing the outcomes of talks with Kerry, our American counterparts will take steps to resume cooperation," Lavrov added.

"We are ready for that," he said, noting that it was not Moscow’s decision to break off ties. "Those who did this should reconsider their position," he said.

Kerry’s visit to the Black Sea resort on May 12 was the highest-level trip by a US official to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in early 2014. Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply since then.

The top US diplomat held more than four hours of talks with his Russian counterpart Lavrov at a hotel in Sochi before seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin at his summer residence in the city.

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told journalists after the meetings that talks between Putin and Kerry yielded no major breakthrough but the Kremlin regarded them as the first signs of understanding that the two great powers should get their relations back on track.

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