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Kerry urges Russia not to isolate itself ‘through its own actions’

Washington does not want to see Russia isolate itself “through its own actions,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday, calling on Moscow to help halt the raging Ukraine crisis.

“The United States and countries that support Ukraine’s sovereignty and rights do not seek confrontation,” Kerry said, insisting: “it is not our design or desire that we see a Russia isolated through its own actions.”

Kerry was speaking at the start of a meeting in Switzerland of top diplomats from the 57-member Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is charged with monitoring a shattered ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and separatist Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine reached in Minsk on September 5.

The overall ceasefire has failed to fully stop fighting in a conflict that has left some 4,300 people dead, and a long-awaited local truce around the flashpoint Donetsk airport appeared to crumble Wednesday just hours after it was signed.

Before meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting, Kerry said “Russia continues to supply new weapons and increase support for armed separatists” in Ukraine, and thus is failing “to meet its international and OSCE obligations and to live up to an agreement that it actually negotiated and signed.”

Russia, he said, needed to “takes steps now to implement the Minsk protocol in letter and spirit, (end) support for violence in eastern Ukraine, withdraw Russian weapons and fighters, use its influence on the separatists to release all hostages, (and) guarantee safe and unfettered access for OSCE monitors.”

He also urged Moscow to “cooperate in securing and respecting the entire internationally recognised Ukrainian-Russian border and end the illegal occupation in Crimea.

“Moscow could rebuild trust and relationships if it simply helps to calm turbulent waters,” Kerry said.

“When rules are broken they need to be enforced, not rewritten.”