The Guardian reports: Russia flaunted its grip on Crimea on Monday, with the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, flying in to the newly annexed territory for a cabinet meeting, cementing the sense of resignation in Kiev and the west that the seizure of the territory is irreversible.
At the same time, Russian forces appeared to be pulling back from the border with eastern Ukraine. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said in a phone conversation with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, that he had ordered a “partial withdrawal” from the border, according to Berlin.
The developments came after a four-hour meeting on Sunday between the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the US secretary of state, John Kerry, in which both sides put their visions for resolving the Ukraine crisis on the table. After the meeting in Pairs, Lavrov said Ukraine should introduce federalisation of power.
“Both sides had very concrete positions, and it was perhaps the first time over the past few months that things were called by their real names,” said a source in the Russian delegation, who did not elaborate further on whether this left the sides closer or further away from an agreement.
Kerry said after the meeting that any decisions on federalisation ought to be made by Ukrainian authorities, and the Ukrainian foreign ministry released a vicious riposte to the Kremlin, telling it to keep its nose out of Ukrainian affairs: “Do not attempt to teach others. Better bring order to your own country. You have plenty of problems,” read the statement. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said on Monday that he saw no reason for the country to introduce a federal system. [Continue reading…]