US urges Russia to pull forces back from border 'as soon as possible'
The United States has called on Russia to pull its troops back from its border with Ukraine immediately, saying Washington is concerned by Moscow’s troop build-up across the Ukrainian border.
"We’ve told them to pull their troops back from the border. We want to see that happen as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday.
“That’s exactly why Secretary [John] Kerry is working with the Ukrainian Government to get their ideas so he can work with [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov to see if we can get a de-escalation plan in place here," she added.
Tension between the US and Russia escalated over the current crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry and Lavrov met several times during the past weeks in order to find a solution. But the two officials failed to reach an agreement.
Last week, US President Barack Obama also urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine’s border.
“President Putin called President Obama today to discuss the US proposal for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, which Secretary Kerry had again presented to Foreign Minister Lavrov at the meeting at the Hague earlier this week, and which we developed following US consultations with our Ukrainian and European partners,” the White House said.
Obama said Russia should "avoid further provocations, including the buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine.”
The US says there are about 50,000 Russian troops within the two nations' border.
"The Russian troop buildup is creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine," Kerry said. "It certainly does not create the climate that we need for dialogue."
Kerry and Lavrov advanced far different proposals on how to calm tensions and deescalate the situation.