Ukraine, EU, Russia, US to Meet in Geneva
Representatives of Ukraine, the EU, Russia and the US are to discuss the situation in Eastern and Southern Ukraine in Thursday's meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
The diplomatic effort is virtually under way, as Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya was reported to have met EU's High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton.
Deshchytsya earlier called on Russia "not to support terrorist activities in Ukraine", thus echoing the words of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk who earlier set out Moscow's withdrawal from the unrest and condemnation of "terrorists".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's plane also took off to Geneva early on Thursday, despite warnings by Moscow that he might choose not to participate if Kiev uses force against protesters.
Lavrov is also to attend "various bilateral meetings" regarding the crisis in Ukraine, according to RIA Novisti news agency. A meeting with US counterpart John Kerry is on the agenda.
Russia has warned Ukraine against using force to crack down on the unrest in Eastern Ukraine and has voiced concern over further escalation, with President Vladimir Putin saying in a phone call to Angela that the country is "on the verge of civil war".
Moscow also says that Washington is "striving to impose on the rest of the world a distorted perception of what is happening in southeast Ukraine," as a message on its Foreign Ministry's website reads.
US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, has condemned what he calls Russian support for armed groups in the east and south and has said that Russia's steps in the region "are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty," as the BBC quoted him as saying.
Alongside Washington, Brussels has insisted that the occupation end in Eastern Ukraine and that Russia pull back its troops stationed at its western border, the number of which some estimates put at 40 000.
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