Wednesday 19 March 2014 07.37
There has been widespread condemnation of Russia’s moves to annex Crimea
Russia’s Defence Ministry has said that the signatories of a 2011 Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe agreement had exhausted their quotas to inspect Russian military facilities and a planned inspection in the coming days would be the last.
“This is the last inspection held on the territory of the Russian Federation in 2014 under the Vienna Document because all quotas for inspections on our territory by OSCE states have been exhausted,” Sergei Ryzhkov, head of the national nuclear risk reduction centre, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
He said Ukrainian inspectors would carry out the last checks.
Meanwhile,German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama have condemned Russia’s moves to annex Crimea but said “a clear path” remains to solve the crisis diplomatically.
In a phone call the two leaders also agreed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity had suffered “unacceptable blows”, according to a German government spokesman.
Mr Obama and Ms Merkel spoke after President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty claiming the Black Sea region of Crimea as Russian territory, and as Ukraine warned the showdown had entered a “military stage” after soldiers were killed on both sides.
Russia’s move, less than three weeks after pro-Moscow troops first seized control of the strategic peninsula, was slammed by Western leaders.
“The one-sided declaration of Crimea’s independence and the absorption into the Russian Federation that started today are unacceptable blows against the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” German spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
Mr Merkel and Ms Obama agreed that the “so-called” referendum on secession held in Crimea on Sunday breached Ukraine’s constitution and international law, Mr Seibert added.
In a statement issued by the White House the leaders warned “there would be costs” for Russia’s moves.
“They agreed it was vital to send international monitors from the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations to southern and eastern Ukraine immediately,” the statement said.
However, both Berlin and Washington said there was room for negotiations to de-escalate the situation.
“Both leaders agreed to continue to underscore to Russian President Putin that there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically, in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and the people of Ukraine,” the White House statement said.
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