Four-way Ukraine talks set for April 17
Friday, April 11, 2014
BRUSSELS - The European Union announced on Friday that it would join the US, Ukraine and Russia for talks on April 17 in the Swiss city of Geneva to find a diplomatic way out of the political crisis in Ukraine.
It has worsened after Russia's annexation of the strategic peninsula of Crimea last month.
The quadruple meeting will gather U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.
"The European Union is fully engaged in the diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine and to find a political solution,” said a written statement released by Ashton's office.
Ashton maintained that the 18-nation bloc was making a major contribution to efforts to stabilize the situation in the country, together with the international community.
The main objective of the EU and the US is to enable an immediate end to the crisis with via dialogue, without ruling out the option for aggravating the sanctions against Russia, according to diplomatic sources.
In a controversial referendum held on March 16, Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine in favor of unification with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin finalized the process on March 21 when he signed a bill into law officially annexing the peninsula, a move widely condemned by the international community and especially by the Western powers.
Since then, the EU and NATO are moving to impose sanctions on Moscow over Crimea and its ongoing agression in eastern Ukraine, which includes asset freezes and travel bans against Russian diplomats. The EU also canceled the upcoming EU-Russia summit, along with other bilateral summits.
NATO ministers’ decision on April 1 to suspend all practical cooperation with Russia, including civilian and military, was a direct consequence of what the West calls Russia’s ‘violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
NATO previously sent AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) planes to Poland and Romania in response to Russian military activities in the region.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, also warned that the alliance could deploy more U.S. troops to member states in eastern Europe as a countermeasure to Russia’s military build-up on the Ukrainian border.
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