US, Russia Talks on Crimea Flop
'We have no common vision,' says Russia's foreign minister
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2014 12:34 PM CDT
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry stand together before a meeting in London Friday.   (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

(Newser) – John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have wrapped up a last-minute bid to try to defuse tensions ahead of this weekend's big vote in Crimea, and the results are ... not good. In the quote getting picked up everywhere, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared afterward that "we don’t have a common vision of the situation,” reports the Washington Post. Russia refused Kerry's request to cancel Sunday's referendum, in which Crimea is expected to vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Kerry, meanwhile, reiterated that the international community doesn't consider the referendum valid and warned anew of "consequences" should Russia move to annex the territory and of "an even greater response" if Russian troops—now massed at the border—invaded Ukraine.

When asked whether Vladimir Putin would indeed annex Crimea after the vote, Lavrov said it was pointless to speculate before any voting took place. But he added that Russia "will respect the will of people of Crimea that will be expressed at the referendum." On the bright side, he said Russia had no plans to invade Ukraine. After the press conferences, the Guardian summed up that the "Ukraine crisis has entered a new and more dangerous phase." A CNN poll, meanwhile, finds that for the first time in more than a decade, most Americans (69%) see Russia as a threat to the US.

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Mar 16, 2014 2:11 PM CDT
Rhetorical question: Why are we spending billions to maintain the world's most powerful military machine, if it does not deter our primary ideological foes, and if we refuse to use the threat of force, to give those foes pause? "Walk softly, and carry a big stick" has been transformed into "walk softly, and leave the stick locked in the closet". It is one thing to be respected and feared, and quite another to be toyed with and held in contempt. If we are to retreat from the status of world power -- a course with much to recommend it -- then let us get about the business of doing so, starting with a sharp reduction in the military budget. We can certainly find useful things to do with all that money. But, if we are determined to remain a world power, then let us unlock the closet, take the stick out, and tell the likes of Putin that we are prepared to lower it on his head if he threatens us, or our vital interests. John Kennedy understood this principle, and so did Khrushchev. Putin understands it too, but Obama does not. I'm not calling for war, or militarization. I'm calling for us, as a nation, to decide who we are, and what sort of place we want to occupy in the world. Right now, we don't seem to know, and the world watches us uneasily, as we flounder along, a giant having an identity crisis. Personally, I'd prefer to see us redefine our role, and embrace a less dominant place in world affairs. But I understand those who believe otherwise. What is unsupportable, is to remain as we are, neither fish nor fowl, strangled in our own confusion, alarming our friends and amusing our foes.
Mar 16, 2014 9:09 AM CDT
this is nothing new with the dumocrats. just keep them talking & spend our tax $$$$ on these trips all over the world for NIL!!! well.... when the REP take control in Nov 2014,repeal Obamacare , give us less taxes, fix the debt, & GET BACK RESPECT & CREDIBILITY TO THE USA ! & a better way with foreign polices!! Then in Nov 2016 Gov. Christie will be prez!!!! and everything will be AOK in the USA on Jan 20, 2017!! THERE YA GO!!l
Mar 15, 2014 8:34 PM CDT
Putin deals by threats with strength to back it up. Obama stays cool under crises and calculates the best option. Since neither man likes the other on a personal basis this will prove to be a long term game of chess. In which I can see Mr. Obama selling Ukraine "freedom fighters" the same type of weapons Russia sold "patriots" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ukraine will be the chess board