Kerry: Moscow fails to de-escalate Ukraine crisis

Kerry warned Lavrov that a lack of Russian progress would lead to more sanctions

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The United States is in “deep concern” over Russia’s failure to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine, a senior State Department official said Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a phone call that a lack of Russian progress on a deal struck in Geneva last week would result in more sanctions, the official added.

Kerry “expressed deep concern over the lack of positive Russian steps to de-escalate, cited mounting evidence that separatists continue to increase the number of buildings under occupation and take journalists and other civilians captive,” the senior official said.

“He urged Russia to tone down escalatory rhetoric, engage diplomatically in the east with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and Ukrainian government, and issue public statements calling for those occupying buildings to disarm and stand down in exchange for amnesty.”

The official added that Kerry “also reiterated that the absence of measurable progress on implementing the Geneva agreement will result in increased sanctions on Russia.”

The top U.S. diplomat also spoke with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and praised the “important steps” the interim government in Kiev has taken to quell tensions.

The latest flurry of U.S. diplomacy came as Ukraine re-launched military operations against pro-Kremlin separatists, while Russia already has tens of thousands of its troops massed on Ukraine's eastern border.

(With AFP)

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