The US has failed in its attempts to persuade Russia to start a political dialogue with the new Ukrainian Government to find a peaceful solution to the deepening crisis.
The meeting in Paris between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended without any agreement, pressuring the European Union (EU) to take action against Moscow at an emergency summit, being held today in Brussels, Belgium.
Leading a global diplomatic push to de-escalate situation in Ukraine, the US had hoped to persuade Moscow to end its military occupation of Crimea, and also allow international monitors to come in, The Guardian reports.
However, Lavrov accused Western countries of proposing ‘steps that do not help create an atmosphere of dialogue’, and said the forces controlling Crimea are not under Russian control, but are local ‘self-defence’ units opposed to the new government, and protecting their territory.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Kerry said: "Russia made a choice. We have clearly stated it is the wrong choice to move troops into the Crimea. Ukrainian territorial integrity must be restored and maintained."
Kerry and Lavrov are expected to resume talks in Rome, Italy, today, following consultations with their respective presidents, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
Sanctions that could be considered by the EU leaders at the summit may include freezing talks on simplifying it for Russians to travel to Europe, and on a new overall agreement regulating relations between Russia and the EU, according to the news agency.
The EU has already announced its intentions to grant $15bn assistance to Ukraine over the next several years.