On Sunday, March 30th, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Segery Lavrov to discuss a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis. The two diplomats were able to agree that a political solution and further discussion on how to deescalate the issue is necessary. However, Lavrov didn’t commit to pulling back the 40,000 troops that are believed to be stationed on the border.
The meeting came after Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama spoke for hours on the Friday prior to the meeting to discuss the latest American proposal to the crisis.
After the talks, Kerry held a press conference with reporters stating, “Both of us recognize the importance of finding a diplomatic solution and simultaneously meeting the needs of the Ukranian people, and that we agreed on tonight.”
However, in a separate conference, Lavrov made it clear that they needed to work on securing the rights of minorities and linguistic rights in the Ukraine.
The Ukraine has a large Russian population, mainly in their eastern regions, and especially in Crimea, which was recently annexed by Russia and consists of a large number of Russians.
The peninsula’s annexation however, is with reason, considering its value to the Russian federation. Crimea is their m
President Obama has openly disagreed with the annexation and has called it a “” His fear now is that Russia has “additional plans” for the 40,000 troops the U.S. government believes is stationed at the border. Despite Lavrov’s defense that Russia is conducting military exercises in its southern and western military regions, it may not just be an effort to intimidate the Ukraine.
Russia’s defense minister says that the numbers of soldiers carrying out the drills are actually much smaller than that suggested by Washington, and that 22,000 troops are currently in Crimea. Based on satellite imagery, US intelligence believes it is likely that they will actually enter Eastern Ukraine.
The buildup of military personnel on the border is reminiscent of Russia’s moves and capability before it went into Chechnya and Georgia. And Russia also has large number of “motorized vehicles” that are easy to mobilize in a fast time, which adds to the fear of an actual Russian invasion.
The talks ended without a diplomatic resolution, and Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov have not set a date to meet again. Both Russian and American officials showed their support for constitutional changes in the Ukraine before the meeting. Both sides share one of the same goals in securing the rights of the Russian-speaking population.