Russia's Lavrov announces deal to "de-escalate tensions" in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) looks on as US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd R) starts a quadrilateral meeting between representatives of the United States, Ukraine, Russia and the European Union about the ongoing situation in Ukraine in Geneva on April 17, 2014.  (AFP PHOTO - POOL / JIM BOURG)

GENEVA: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday announced a deal had been reached with Ukraine, the United States and the European Union to "de-escalate" dangerously high tensions in the former Soviet republic.

"We adopted a document, the Geneva statement of April 17, where we agreed on immediate initial steps to de-escalate tensions," Lavrov told reporters after half a day of talks in Geneva.

"All illegal armed groups must be disarmed, ilegally seized buildings returned to their rightful owners," he said of the agreement reached with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. 

He did not elaborate. But the statement could potentially be referring to pro-Kremlin separatists who have wreaked havoc in Ukraine's southeast in recent days, occupying state buildings in several towns and cities in what has severely destabilised the country.

The West had come to the Geneva talks hoping to persuade Moscow to disband these militias, although Russia has always denied any links to them.

Lavrov also said Russia had "no desire" to send troops into Ukraine.





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