US, Russia Fail To Make 'Significant' Breakthroughs During Kerry's Visit; Lavrov Says Sanctions 'Dead End'

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference as part of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2) meeting in New York April 27, 2015. Reuters/Andrew Kelly

The U.S. and Russia both share the same view of an end to the ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine. U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have called for the ceasefire agreement to remain but neither had offered a solution to resolve the fractured ties between Russia and the U.S.

Kerry said at a joint conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that anyone who has control over those in eastern Ukraine should need to take every measure to ensure the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement. The U.S. secretary of state had met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi before the news conference on May 12.

Mr Putin and Kerry discussed the war in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program. USA Today reports it was Kerry’s first visit to Russia since the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The Obama administration had blamed Russia for sparking a conflict by arming the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies had imposed economic sanctions on Russia as penalties for its actions. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the conflict.

Kerry said his talks with the Russian president covered the transport of heavy weapons. Previous reports indicated that U.S. security analysts believe weapons continue to move from Russia into the stronghold of separatist forces in Ukraine. The Russian foreign minister had urged Ukraine to withdraw its heavy artillery from more territory that it had agreed to under the Minsk agreement.

Kerry and Lavrov also discussed the consequences of the Syrian civil war. “We both understand and fully accept the degree to which the situation in Syria is increasingly not only unsustainable but increasingly dangerous for the region,” said Kerry.

Lavrov told Kerry in a statement that attempts to pressure Russia with sanctions will only lead to a “dead end.” The Russian official said Moscow was ready to cooperate with the U.S. but on the basis of equal partnership. Lavrov reiterated that Russia will not bow to sanctions to abandon its national interests. 

During the discussions, Kerry had focused on broader regional and international issues. However, Kremlin adviser Yury Ushakov said the talks did not yield any significant breakthroughs, reports the Moscow Times. Lavrov gave Kerry Russian tomatoes and potatoes, mirroring Kerry’s gesture in Paris in 2014 when he presented Lavrov with Idaho potatoes. The U.S. secretary of state was also given a commemorative shirt marking the 70th anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany.

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