After snubbing him several weeks ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met today with his Ukrainian counterpart Andrii Deshchytsia — the first time since Russia took over the Ukrainian region of Crimea, a move considered illegal by most of the Western world.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the Russian government had decided to allow a meeting to take place, but the State Department praised the fact that the two were at least sitting at the table together.
“I think talking is good, and it’s an important step, but what we need to see are Russian actions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today, adding that Secretary of State John Kerry had specifically urged his Russian counterpart to meet with Deshchytsia during their own meeting earlier today on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands.
On Sunday, Deshchytsia lamented Lavrov’s refusal to talk to him during a phone interview with ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga. “I didn’t have chance to talk to Mr. Lavrov. I ask for telephone conversation with him. That was 10 days ago and since that time I did not get an answer for my request,” he told Golodryga.
Earlier in March, Deshchytsia traveled to Paris and Rome with Kerry in the hopes of meeting with Lavrov, but the Russians rebuffed their advances, with Lavrov responding to reporters who asked about a potential meeting, “Who is it? I didn’t see anyone.”