Russia pledges to respect Ukraine's unity: Kerry

27th February 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov vowed Thursday that Moscow "will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine" and voiced concerns about the situation in southern Crimea, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

The top US diplomat said the pledge came in an early morning phone call with his Russian counterpart, who also insisted Moscow was not behind the storming of Crimean government buildings by dozens of armed pro-Kremlin gunmen.

"I asked specifically that Russia work with the United States and our friends and allies in order to support Ukraine to rebuild unity, security and a healthy economy," Kerry told reporters.

Lavrov "reaffirmed President Putin's statement that Russia will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and we believe that everybody now needs to step back and avoid any kind of provocations," Kerry said after talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

But he warned that Washington would be keeping a close eye on events in order to ensure that Moscow remained true to its word.

© 2014 AFP

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