Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held an emergency meeting in Paris, during which they discussed the critical situation in Ukraine.
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said after the four-hour meeting that Russia and the United States agreed to work with the Ukrainian government and the people to resolve the crisis in the country.
Moscow is convinced that there is no other way out of the crisis, but to federalize Ukraine. "Yes, we are convinced that federalization is a very important component of the constitutional reform, because the most important thing is to ensure the unity of Ukraine taking account of interests of all regions without exception in this country," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
According to him, "the west and the east, the west and the south profess quite contradictory values , and to make this country function as a single state, one needs to find consensus and compromise between all regions of Ukraine."
"We agree that it is for Ukrainians to solve it all - nobody can impose any scheme on them," said Lavrov.
At the same time, he noted, the scheme should take into account the voices of all regions of the country and all aspects. To crown it all, one needs to agree what specific traditions will be respected in each region of Ukraine - political, economic, linguistic and religious ones.
Kerry, in turn, said that the issue of federalization of Ukraine, which the Russian Federation offers, should be solve by the Ukrainian authorities.
John Kerry said that to resolve the situation, Moscow needs to withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine. He noted that the presence of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine creates a climate of "fear and intimidation."
According to Kerry, the U.S. does not recognize a way to resolve the situation in Ukraine, in which the legitimate government of Ukraine will not be present at the negotiating table.
Lavrov and Kerry also agreed to continue to hold meetings to resolve the Ukrainian crisis. "We agreed to continue the conversation and meet often enough to ensure that these objectives are realized," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
On Saturday, Kerry and Lavrov had a telephone conversation, which took place on the American initiative. According to The Associated Press, Kerry ordered to turn back his aircraft, on which he was returning to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia.
General Director of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, Andrei Kortunov, shares his thoughts about the meeting between Lavrov and Kerry for Pravda.Ru.
"Kerry insisted on guarantees of Russia's military non-interference in Ukraine, but he did not receive them. U.S. intelligence reports that Russia deployed nearly 40,000 troops on the border. Russia has not confirmed this. What is the real state of affairs?"
"Of course, the U.S. intelligence is not ideal in many ways. And now in the United States there is a debate on the subject of why the U.S. intelligence "lost" Crimea's return to Russia. It was not included in the scenarios, which were prepared under the supervision of U.S. military intelligence and the CIA.
"Secondly, if you look at the Russian-Ukrainian border, you will see that it is quite a long one. Moreover, Ukraine borders on the Russian Central Military District, so many units over there are located in places of permanent deployment. To say that the troops have been relocated to be deployed on the border is not always accurate in reality.
"Thirdly, according to our military officials, there are planned exercises being held there, and, of course, these exercises are a normal of military training, especially under the condition of deep military reform. Therefore, there is probably no reason to give too much importance to that.
"Another question is if we suppose that Russia would want to conduct a military operation, for Russia it is not difficult, especially given the dire state of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. But Russian military leaders, political leaders, including foreign minister and defense minister have repeatedly said that Russia has no plans for a military operation in Eastern Ukraine. So I think it goes about somewhat excessive pressure that is being put on the Russian side, which is likely to be based on not very credible speculation.
"As for the issue of federalization, this is a very sensitive issue for the Ukrainian leadership, and it has always been painful. The second question that the Russian side raises too - on the status of the Russian language as a second state language - is no less painful. We know that during 20 years of the Ukrainian state, these two subjects have been discussed a lot. Furthermore, many presidential candidates have included these two ideas in their electoral programs, although none of them has ever been realized.
"I think that, the current Ukrainian leadership has concerns about the implementation of the idea of federalization because it may lead to the loss of control of the country; separate regions may distance themselves from the center and fall under the influence of foreign countries, primarily Russia.
"In my opinion, this question is not for the current leadership of Ukraine, which is a technical leadership, which, as we know, Russia does not recognize as legitimate. This question will be a matter to deal with for the future leadership that is to power in Kiev after the elections on May 25."