MOSCOW, April 11 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke Friday about the possibility of deescalating the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia, Lavrov stated, is prepared to engage in four-party talks regarding deescalation. That meeting -- with foreign ministers from European Union member states, Ukraine, and the U.S. -- may be held on April 17.
"It is quite possible to deescalate current Ukrainian crisis," Lavrov told a meeting of Russian research and production associations on Friday in Moscow.
But, he said, "Attempts to legitimize 'Maidan' government should be stopped. The top priority is to carry out a constitutional reform with all regions involved and fix an off-bloc status of Ukraine.“
Russia has refused to recognize Kiev's current interim government that assumed power when former President Viktor Yanukovych lost ground to mass EuroMaidan protests. The protests began in November 2013 after Yanukovych backed out of an association with the EU. Yanukovych's decision not to join the EU was regarded as an attempt to move economically-struggling Ukraine closer to Russia and away from the western economy.
During his address, Lavrov criticized the West for its response to the crisis in Ukraine and its attempts to isolate Russia. Citing "a creeping NATO expansion ... attempts to introduce sanction lists under different pretexts and unleashing an information campaign against Russia recently," Lavrov charged that Western nations are "spreading ... geopolitical influence to the East" is a "'new edition' ... for containing Russia."
[ITAR-TASS News Agency]