Russia has agreed to hold multilateral talks with diplomats from Ukraine, the EU and the US to find a peaceful solution for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying that the country is ready to consider the multiparty format involving Europeans, the US, Russia and Ukraine, but called for representation from the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.
Lavrov, who said that ignoring the resentment in the south and east will obstruct progress, did not disclose the date of the meeting, citing the necessity to ‘first and foremost understand the format of this event, the agenda and the legal procedures’.
However, an unnamed EU source said that it will be held at an unspecified location in Europe within the next ten days.
The idea was put forward during a telephone conversation between Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry on 8 April, according to the US State Department.
Ukraine Foreign Ministry Information Policy Department director Yevhen Perebyinis told Interfax Ukraine: "Ukraine is ready for consultations, both bilaterally with the Russian side and involving international mediators from the EU and the US."
Representing the first four-way dialogue since the crisis erupted, the meeting will involve EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Kerry, Lavrov, and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia.
The move comes amid rising tensions in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, where pro-Russian activists seized government buildings, raised the Russian flag, and demanded referendums to secede from Ukraine.
The US and its European allies have blamed Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula last month, for the uprisings, despite Moscow’s insistence that it has no plans to interfere in eastern Ukraine.