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Russia: EU should respect Ukraine referendum results

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the European Union should respect the results of the referendums in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine over the weekend.

Mr Lavrov's comments follow an apparently overwhelming victory for pro-Russian separatists, with rebel leaders claiming over 85% of voters in both regions voted in favour of independence from Ukraine.

The leader of the rebels in Donetsk has now reportedly asked for his region to be incorporated into the Russian Federation, though the Kremlin has yet to respond to the request.

Read: Donetsk rebels 'ask Putin to become part of Russia'

Lavrov: New international talks 'going round in circles'

Russia' Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has dismissed calls for a new round of international talks over Ukraine.

He said further negotiations would be "going round in circles" because the first agreement reached in Geneva has, in Russia's view, not been implemented.

Mr Lavrov also claimed it would be "unusual" for the Ukrainian presidential election to go ahead while the Ukrainian army is being deployed in the east of the country.

Read: 'More than 30 separatists killed' in Ukraine fighting

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Russia: Sanctions 'weak' and 'lack common sense'

US and European Union sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis are the result of the West's own weak policies, the Russian Foreign Minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov
Last week Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Ukraine must stop its military operation in the southeast of the country. Credit: Reuters

Sergei Lavrov said Russia rejects sanctions "in any of our relationships, in particular those sanctions that were sponsored by the United States and the European Union, which are against all common sense, regarding the events in Ukraine".

Lavrov tells Kerry Ukraine must stop operation in east

Sergei Lavrov has told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Ukraine must stop its military operation in the country's southeastern as part of efforts to defuse the crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Credit: Parspix/ABACA/Press Association Images

In a telephone conversation with Kerry, Lavrov also urged the US to use its influence to secure the release of what the ministry called leaders of the "protest movement" in the region - a reference to pro-Russian separatists.

Kerry and Lavrov discussed efforts to resolve the situation involving detained OSCE military observers, the ministry said, adding that the controlling parts of southeastern Ukraine had not been properly informed of the observers' plans to travel there.

Lavrov: There are no Russian operatives in Ukraine

The official Twitter account of the Russian foreign ministry tweeted:

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#Lavrov: Russia is not interfering in #Ukraine’s domestic affaires, which is against our interests. There are no Russian operatives there

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#Lavrov: Russia is interested in a united #Ukraine where all people are equal and feel at home

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Russia and US exchange warnings over action in Ukraine

Russia and the United States exchanged strong-worded warnings over armed actions in Ukraine today.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that any armed action by Ukrainian authorities in the east of the country would undermine efforts at a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov meet in Paris on March 30. Credit: Reuters/Jacquelyn Martin

Mr Lavrov made the warning during a call from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who in turn expressed concern about Russia's role in "inciting" trouble in eastern Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The White House warned Russia against further military action in Ukraine after armed separatists seized government offices in the eastern city of Slaviansk today, saying the situation was reminiscent of what recently happened in Crimea.

Mr Lavrov said Ukraine was "demonstrating its inability to take responsibility for the fate of the country."He said that any use of force against Russian speakers in the east of Ukraine "would undermine the potential for cooperation."

Ukraine: Armed attacks are 'act of Russian aggression'

US-Russia's Ukraine crisis talks end after four hours

John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov's latest talks were held at the Russian Ambassador's residence in the French capital. Credit: Reuters/Jacquelyn Martin

The latest Ukraine crisis talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris have ended after four hours, a US official has said.

Russia's Lavrov calls Western sanctions 'unpleasant'

Russia's foreign minister said Western sanctions have been "unpleasant" but not too painful overall.

In an interview due to air on Russia's Channel One today, Sergei Lavrov said: "The sanctions ... I don't want to say that they are laughable, I don't want to say that we don't care.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his US counterpart later today. Credit: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

"They are unpleasant. But the fact they try to take those sanctions on a more personal level and present them as directed at certain people personally - it is clearly a desire to take revenge, we can see it with the naked eye".

Mr Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to meet in Paris later today.

Read: Kerry and Lavrov to meet amid 'isolation' warning to Russia

Practical steps taken to make Crimea part of Russia

The legal process required to make Crimea part of Russia will be completed this week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, two days after President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to bring the Ukrainian region into Russia.

"Practical steps are being taken to implement the agreements on the entry of Crimea and (the Crimean port city of) Sevastopol into Russia," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

"The legal process will be completed this week."

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