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Kerry: Russia Says it 'Wants to Support Ukraine in its Independence'

'In the end, obviously the troops are in Russia on Russian soil.'

8:33 AM, Mar 31, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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Despite the Russian troops massing on the Ukainian border and Russia's "illegal and illegitimate" actions so far, Secretary of State John Kerry told the press in Paris last night after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that, according to Lavrov, "Russia wants to support Ukraine in its independence and in its ability to be able to make that transition":

 And I will say that at least tonight Foreign Minister Lavrov indicated that Russia wants to respect the right of Ukrainians to make that choice. They obviously in Ukraine are traveling a difficult democratic path towards the possibility of prosperity and peace, and tonight Foreign Minister Lavrov indicated in our conversation that Russia wants to support Ukraine in its independence and in its ability to be able to make that transition.

Kerry also said that he "made clear that the United States still considers the Russian actions to be illegal and illegitimate," and that Russia is "on the wrong side of history." He went on to say that "any real progress in Ukraine must include a pullback of the very large Russian force that is currently massing along Ukraine’s borders" because they are "creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine."

A reporter pressed Kerry on the troops issue, asking if there is "any scenario under which the United States would accept having any of those troops remain." Kerry responded:

Well, with respect to the troop deployment issue, I think I’ve really answered it. We have ideas. We have some proposals that both sides made. And it’s really important for the appropriate consultations to take place before there’s any discussion about that. 

But, Kerry conceded that "in the end, obviously the troops are in Russia on Russian soil."

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