KIEV, Ukraine, May 13 (UPI) -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Kiev Tuesday for negotiations between Ukrainian government officials and pro-Russia separatists.
Steinmeier traveled to Ukraine after meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, where the leaders agreed that dialogue was urgently needed to resolve the ongoing crisis between the West and Russia.
Two regions in eastern Ukraine held referendums for independence on Sunday, a move that was roundly criticized by Ukraine's central government as a "farce" and deemed illegal by the the U.S. and the European Union.
Donetsk and Luhansk declared themselves sovereign republics on Monday, and Donetsk immediately asked to join the Russian Federation.
Perhaps in line with a pattern of discord between Moscow's words and actions vis-a-vis Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry released a statement following the referendums, voicing Russia's support for dialogue: "We reaffirm the need for the immediate establishment of a broad discussion in Ukraine concerning its future state structure, involving all political forces and the country's regions."
It is unclear with whom German Foreign Minister Steinmeier will meet in Kiev, although Ukraine's government maintains it is willing to hold a dialogue with eastern Ukraine's regional leaders.