President OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Lavrov, I wanted to hear about the results of your contacts with your colleagues, your US and European colleagues, about the situation in Ukraine. I asked you, in response to the US request, to invite [US] Secretary of State Mr Kerry, who wanted to come to Russia to continue these consultations.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Mr President, as you instructed, the contacts are continuing. We had contacts throughout the last week in Europe. A series of international events took place there, in which John Kerry, the foreign ministers of the main European countries – France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain – and the European Union High Representative [Catherine] Ashton all took part. I met with each of them and explained our position and expressed our readiness to continue the joint search for solutions that would enable us to work together to help settle the situation in Ukraine. At one of the rounds of these multilateral consultations, our partners expressed the wish that we and the Americans try directly to find approaches that would be acceptable for everyone.
Last Friday, John Kerry gave me the document that I spoke to you about. The concept that it formulates is not particularly suitable in our opinion because the line it follows supposes the existence of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and recognises events that have taken place as now accomplished facts. Our partners are proposing it seems, that we take the situation that the coup d’état has created as the starting point and take the steps they think necessary in these circumstances.
We analysed this document together with our colleagues from other agencies, set out our position on these proposals, and, acting on your instruction, invited John Kerry to come to Russia in accordance with President Obama’s request; it was proposed, I think, that he even come right today, and you were ready to meet with him. He agreed initially, but then on Saturday he called and said that he would like to postpone the trip for the moment. He said that they had put together another document in Washington. He sent this new document to me yesterday and we have analysed it. To be frank, it raises many questions on our side.
But we are not just passively receiving our colleagues’ proposals. Working together with the members of the Russian Federation Security Council, we have drafted some proposals of our own. They aim to bring the situation back into line with international law, taking into consideration the interests of all Ukrainians without exception and the serious state crisis that Ukraine is going through now. I am ready to brief you now on these proposals, and I hope that we can then send them to our partners so that the dialogue can continue.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, let’s discuss in detail all of the different aspects of this problem.