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Russia not to adjust policy over sharp statements from West

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-3-17 9:34:50

Russia said Sunday it would not adjust foreign policies over the recent tough statements by some Group of Eight (G8) countries, reiterating its firm position on Ukraine.

"A statement is not a reason for any adjustments ... There have not been any sanctions yet, so no changes are being made," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a local newspaper.

Noting that Russia had "regrets" about Western partners' statements, Peskov said his country is still working with those states "in an orderly manner."

Earlier this week, the White House indicated that Moscow would be booted out of the G8 industrialized nations over handling the Ukraine crisis, and a bill is working through US Congress to enact financial sanctions on Russia.

Germany also said the European Union (EU) would impose further sanctions if there is no sign of de-escalation from Russia over the Sunday referendum in Crimea.

"Let us wait for concrete decisions. So far, there have been speculations in the media, and general statements," Peskov said. " We will assess the risks and consequences involved - not only for us, but also for our partners - after concrete steps are made."

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Sunday in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Crimea referendum breach no international law and Moscow will respect the choice of local residents.

Meanwhile, he nodded to Merkel's proposal to expand the existing mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine and send more observers, primarily to the country's east.

Merkel also stressed the need to hold direct talks between the Russian and Ukrainian governments in order to resolve the existing issues.

Also on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed to US Secretary of State John Kerry via a telephone conversation that Moscow's position on Crimea referendum remained unchanged.

Lavrov urged the US side to place its full influence on Kiev authorities to "stop mass lawlessness and arbitrariness against the Russian speaking population."

"Recently, ultra-nationalist and radical forces stepped up the activities in Ukraine's southeast ... Radicals' actions seriously destabilize the situation," the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

The two diplomats "agreed to continue contacts to search for ways to settle the crisis in Ukraine in order to launch a constitutional reform in the country in respect of all Ukrainian regions."

Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic, is holding a referendum Sunday over its future status. More than 1,000 polling stations will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time (0600 GMT to 1800 GMT).

An exit poll by the Crimean Republic Institute for Political and Social Studies indicated reportedly that 93 percent of voters in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were in favor of reunification with Russia.

About an hour to go before the referendum ends, Crimeans in Simferopol, the capital city of the peninsula, were already seen streaming toward the central city square for celebration.

Meanwhile, a joint statement issued Sunday by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called the referendum in Crimea "illegal and illegitimate", saying its outcome "will not be recognized."

In the US, a White House spokesman said on Sunday that the referendum has been "administered under the threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law."

Posted in: Europe