MOSCOW, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Russia insisted Saturday Ukraine retain its non-aligned status, and declared Moscow had no plans to cross that country's border.
"We are convinced that a new (Ukrainian) constitution should unambiguously stipulate Ukraine's non-aligned status," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a local television interview.
He noted U.S. President Barack Obama said last week in Brussels that neither Ukraine nor NATO were ready for Kiev's accession to the military bloc and there was no reason to talk about that.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk also said he "so far did not bring up" the issue of Ukraine's NATO membership, Lavrov said.
However, the minister said, "There are too many 'so fars' and 'no intentions'."
"Intentions change, while facts are created on the ground," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, Lavrov said Moscow had "absolutely no intention of and interest in crossing Ukraine's borders."
"The only thing we really want is that the work should be collective and the lawlessness that some Western countries are trying to sweep under the rug and paint the situation in bright colors should be stopped, so that they realize their responsibility," he said.
The diplomat also said the interaction between Moscow, Western countries and Kiev over the Ukrainian crisis settlement was getting more tangible.
"Anyway, we are bringing our approaches closer together," he said, "My last meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in The Hague and my contacts with Germany, France and some other countries show that a possible joint initiative that could be offered to our Ukrainian partners is taking shape."
Putin, Obama discuss diplomatic resolution of Ukrainian crisis
WASHINGTON, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called President Barack Obama to discuss a U.S. proposal for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, the White House said.
Obama suggested Russia put "a concrete response in writing" and the two leaders agreed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would meet to discuss next steps, the White House said in a readout of the phone talks. Full story
Putin proposes termination of Black Sea Fleet agreements with Ukraine
MOSCOW, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday submitted to the State Duma, lower house of parliament, a proposal to terminate agreements with Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet.
"Following the signing of the treaty between Russia and Crimea on March 18, 2014 on Crimea's accession to Russia and formation of two new regions within Russia, the essence of the Russian-Ukrainian agreements was lost due to the virtual cessation of legal relations of Russia renting facilities for its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine," the Kremlin said in a statement. Full story
Sanctions against Russia could backfire: Austrian business leader
VIENNA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- President of the Austrian Economic Chambers Christoph Leitl has joined other Austrian business leaders in opposing sanctions against Russia, saying such measures would also harm those who impose them.
Leitl told the Austria Press Agency in an interview Friday that the economy should not be misused in continuing the conflict, but should rather be used as a form of connection. Full story
Kiev hails UN resolution on Ukraine
KIEV, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Friday hailed a UN resolution affirming the international community's commitment to the country's territorial integrity.
"The resolution reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and rebuffs any illegal attempts to change the boundaries of Ukraine," the ministry's press service said in a statement. Full story