US Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a stern and final warning to Russia to help de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine or face more sanctions.
“The window to change course is closing. The world will make sure the costs for Russia will only grow” if Russia refuses to change course, Kerry said late Thursday.
Kerry’s warning came after Ukraine used lethal force against pro-Russia activists in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, reportedly leading to five deaths.
“What is happening in eastern Ukraine is a military operation that is well-planned and organized. If Russia continues in this direction, it will not only be a grave mistake — it will be an expensive mistake,” Kerry said.
The top US diplomat accused the Kremlin of “a full-throated effort to actively sabotage the democratic effort.”
“Russia has put its faith in distraction, deception, and destabilization,” he said, adding, “For seven days Russia has refused to take a single concrete step in the right direction.”
Tensions between Russia and the West heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and became part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16.
Meanwhile, protests have been a common scene across eastern Ukrainian cities over the past weeks with demonstrators occupying state buildings in several towns and cities.
On April 17, Ukraine’s interim government together with the United States, Russia and the European Union reached an agreement in the Swiss city of Geneva, calling for all sides to ease the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine interim authorities in Kiev said on Friday that army units have begun the second phase of an operation to drive out pro-Russia activists from the eastern cities.
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