Russia and Ukraine hold first meeting after Crimean annexation

24 March 2014 (Last Updated March 24th, 2014 18:30)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia to hold talks over the crisis that has seen the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia to hold talks over the crisis that has seen the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

On the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague, Netherlands, the meeting represents the first encounter between the two countries since Russia's annexation of Crimean peninsula, following a referendum considered illegal by Ukraine and the West.

Addressing a news conference, Lavrov said he has outlined the steps that Russia believes should be implemented by the new Ukrainian Government to defuse the situation.

"We set forth our vision to establish good national dialogue taking into account all residents of Ukraine."

"We set forth our vision to establish good national dialogue taking into account all residents of Ukraine," Lavrov said.

Lavrov, who also met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, reaffirmed Russia's demand for a constitutional reform in Ukraine that would offer more autonomy to all its regions, Associated Press reports.

Eager to retain its influence in Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern regions, the Kremlin is believed to have prevented Ukraine from joining Nato, and pushed for the country to become federation, which were rejected by the Ukrainian Government.

Speaking to reporters prior to meeting with Lavrov, Deshchytsia expressed concerns over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine's eastern border.

"The possibility of a military invasion is very high," Deshchytsia said.

Meanwhile, Group of Eight (G8) members have indefinitely suspended Russia from the group in response to its actions in Crimea, and also threatened intensified sanctions in wake of any further Russian military moves in the region.

The members said in a joint statement: "We remain ready to intensify actions, including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation."

Lavrov said the expulsion from the G8 would be no 'great tragedy', and added, 'if our Western partners think that this format has outlived itself, then so be it'.

Defence Technology