Russia and Ukraine Hold Talks Over Crimea
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia for the first time since tensions boiled over following the crisis in Crimea.
"We set forth our vision to establish good national dialogue taking into account all residents of Ukraine," Lavrov told a news conference Tuesday. It is still unclear what the talks covered in full - other annexations, diplomatic relations, and the ethnocultural conflict between ethnic Ukrainians and Russians are all on the line - as the story is still developing.
Lavrov also added he saw "no great tragedy" if Moscow was expelled from the G8 group of leading nations over its invasion - and annexation - of the Crimean peninsula.
"If our Western partners think that this format has outlived itself, then so be it. At the very least, we are not trying to cling on to this format," he told reporters.
Lavrov had already said on Monday that Russia remains unfazed at the prospect of being booted from the G8.
"G8 is an informal organization that does not give out any membership cards and, by its definition, cannot remove anyone," he explained during a news conference. "All the economic and financial questions are decided in G20, and G8 has the purpose of existence as the forum of dialogue between the leading Western countries and Russia."
He added that Russia was "not attached to this format and we don't see a great misfortune if it will not gather. Maybe, for a year or two, it will be an experiment for us to see how we live without it."
The meeting is the latest development in the crisis in the Crimean peninsula, which exploded earlier this month after 6,000 Russian troops invaded an airport in the Russian-speaking Ukrainian province.
The meeting also marks a rare show of diplomacy between the two nations after a series of mass protests in Kiev since early December, when thousands stormed Independence Square to protest the government's refusal to become a full member of the European Union (EU).