Lavrov: Troops in Crimea Protecting Russian Citizens
Russia's foreign minister has defended the increasing presence of his country's troops in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, ahead of a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is hoping to prevent a further escalation in the region.
Sergei Lavrov said Monday that the use of Russian troops in Crimea is necessary "until the normalization of the political situation" in Crimea. He spoke at the opening of the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva and said his country's troops are protecting Russian nationals.
Ukraine has accused Russia of carrying out a military invasion and urged Moscow to withdraw its forces, which have surrounded Ukrainian military bases across Crimea and set up roadblocks.
Russian media reported that Russian fighter jets flew through Ukraine's airspace over the Black Sea overnight Sunday into Monday.
Russia's foreign ministry also says Russia and China have coinciding views on the situation in Ukraine, while the leaders of the G7 group of nations are condemning what they say is Russia's "clear violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty.
Lavrov spoke to his Chinese counterpart phone on Monday. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China wants to see a political solution to the situation.
"We understand the historical background of the Ukraine issue, and the complexity of the current reality. As I have said yesterday, to get to this point today, things happened for a reason. We hope that all parties can, through dialogue and and consultation, find a political solution, prevent further escalation and work together to safeguard peace and stability in the region."
The G7 leaders issued a joint statement calling on Russia to address any concerns it has with Ukraine through either direct negotiations or mediation led by the U.N. or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The G7 includes the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Obama Enters Middle East Peace Efforts in Talks with Netanyahu
U.S. President Barack Obama will attempt to break an impasse in the latest efforts to reach a final Middle East peace accord when he hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday.
Mr. Obama will try and convince Mr. Netanyahu to agree to a framework on a final round of negotiations that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state existing side-by-side with Israel. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a new round of peace talks last July, with the goal of reaching a final agreement by next month. But the Obama administration revised the goal as the talks stalled
In an interview published Sunday by Bloomberg, the U.S. president warned that "time is running out" for Israel to reach a final accord with the Palestinians. He said if the peace talks fail, the U.S. would be unable to defend Israel from a backlash on the international stage, including a growing threat of boycotts and diplomatic isolation.
But Mr. Netanyahu told reporters before his departure for Washington that Israel will continue to reject what he called the "various pressures" to reach a deal.