U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in London, a last chance by the look of it to make diplomatic headway before Sunday’s Crimean referendum on joining Russia which the West says is illegal.
Kerry said he would present “a series of options that are appropriate in order to try to respect the people of Ukraine, international law, and the interests of all concerned” and that sanctions would be imposed against Moscow if the referendum went ahead.
A full NATO meeting will take place in Brussels with the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors invited. There is no sign yet of Vladimir Putin coming to the negotiating table.
Following Washington’s lead, the European Union has agreed on a framework for sanctions against Russia, including travel restrictions and asset freezes, which goes further than many expected. The list of targeted individuals is still being worked on but will be ready for the bloc’s foreign ministers to look at on Monday.
Germany had been cautious about imposing anything too tough but now agrees actions will be taken next week unless diplomatic progress is made – signalled by a notably uncompromising speech by Angela Merkel on Thursday in which she warned Moscow risked massive political and economic damage.