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Putin and Ban discussed “the situation in Ukraine, including the referendum to be held on March 16,” said a Kremlin statement.
“Putin emphasized that the decision to hold the referendum is in line with the provisions of international law and with the UN Charter,” says the statement.
International observers have arrived in Crimea on Saturday ahead of the controversial referendum.
The Crimean parliament declared independence Tuesday ahead of a popular vote Sunday on seceding from Ukraine and becoming part of Russia.
Authorities in Kiev and international leaders have condemned the referendum as illegitimate and accused Moscow of fomenting unrest in order to annex Crimea.
Ban told reporters in New York later in the day that the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate and there was “a great risk of dangerous, downward spiral.”
He also urged Russia and Ukraine not to take “hasty measures” that “may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The UN chief said that peaceful solution was still an option.
Russia and the West have reached a standoff over the fate of Crimea, which has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new central government in Kiev following last month’s revolution.
Russia has no plans of a military action in southeastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday after talks with his US counterpart John Kerry in London.
“Russia does not and cannot have any plans to invade southeastern Ukraine. There are no reasons that prevent us from showing transparency [on the Ukrainian issue],” he said.
In spite of extensive talks between Kerry and Lavrov, disagreements between Moscow and Washington persist.
“As far as prospective sanctions are concerned… I assure you that our partners are fully aware that sanctions are a counter-productive measure. They will not benefit our mutual business interests or the development of our partnership in general,” Lavrov said.
Writing for The BRICS Post, Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin and government advisor, said too much is at stake to make drastic changes in Russia-US ties, and “too much money is involved in deals and trade to simply ignore everything and turn back on years of tough negotiating and compromise”.
“Despite what is happening in Ukraine, relations between the US and Russia will continue; Exxon Mobile and others will keep on signing deals with the Russian oil giant Rosneft and trade between the two countries will not suffer,” writes Nekrassov.
TBP and Agencies