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Russia sees U.S. proposals on Ukraine questionable, drafts own settlement

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow was not satisfied with U.S. proposals on settling the Ukrainian political crisis, and has drafted its own document to "put the situation on the basis of international law."

"Our partners suggested proceeding from this situation created by the (Ukrainian) coup," Lavrov briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, the host city of ongoing Paralympic Winter Games.

He said the proposals received on Friday contained "a concept which does not quite agree with us because everything was stated in terms of allegedly having a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and in terms of accepting the fait accompli."

Moscow and Washington have remained far apart over the festering crisis in Ukraine, accusing each other of imposing will on the country, which sits at the strategically important juncture between Russia and Europe. Central to their divergence has been the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government, which Russia branded as a coup while the United States and its allies hailed as a victory of democracy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was expected to visit Moscow on Monday, postponed his schedule on Saturday, citing that Washington was drafting the new document.

The diplomatic solution Washington proposed involved direct talks between the governments of Ukraine and Russia; the deployment of international monitors to ensure the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; the return of Russian forces to their bases in Crimea; and international support for presidential elections in Ukraine in May.

"Frankly speaking, we have many questions about this (document), " the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

He added that the ministry had prepared, together with members of the Russian Security Council, its counter-proposals for the United States.

"They aim to put the situation on the basis of international law and take into account the interests of all Ukrainians without exception," Lavrov said.

Ukraine descended into a political crisis following its suspension of a political-economic agreement with the European Union in November. The situation continued deteriorating as the pro-Russian parliament in Crimea has scheduled a controversial referendum on March 16 on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia.

Russia has said it would respect the "historic" decision Crimean people would take, while most of Western countries are questioning the legitimacy of the referendum.

[Source: Xinhua, Moscow, 10Mar14]

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