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Putin, Xi discuss Ukraine with Merkel, Cameron
March 10, 2014, 6:04 am

Crowds swell in a pro-Russia rally in Simferopol, capital of Ukraine's Crimea Republic, on March 9, 2014 [Xinhua]

Crowds swell in a pro-Russia rally in Simferopol, capital of Ukraine’s Crimea Republic, on March 9, 2014 [Xinhua]

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday told German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British PM David Cameron in a phone call that Crimea’s decision to secede from Ukraine and join Russia was within the framework of the international law.

“Although the three leaders did express differences of opinion regarding the events taking place, they declared their common interest in de-escalating tension and returning the situation to normal as soon as possible,” said a Kremlin statement.

“Putin stressed, in particular, that the steps taken by the legitimate government in Crimea are based on the international law and are intended to defend the legitimate interests of Crimean residents,” added the statement.

Meanwhile, in a separate phone conversation on Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping told German Chancellor Merkel that as the current situation in Ukraine is “very complicated and highly sensitive, various factors should be taken into consideration in the handling of the crisis”.

Beijing is urging all sides to seek a political solution through dialogue and negotiations within the framework of international law, so as to avoid further escalation of the situation.

Russian allies China and India have called for calm and restraint on all sides on the crisis. New Delhi has said Moscow has “legitimate” interests in Ukraine and they should be discussed to find a satisfactory solution to the issue.

“We are watching what is happening in Ukraine with concern… The broader issues of reconciling various interests involved and there are, after all, legitimate Russian and other interests involved and we hope those are discussed, negotiated and there is a satisfactory resolution to them,” Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said last week.

The deadlock in Ukraine has led to the current standoff between Russia and the West over the fate of Crimea, an autonomous region with a majority ethnic Russian population.

Crimean authorities have refused to recognize as legitimate the new central government in Kiev, which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych late last month, and on Thursday they announced a decision to become part of Russia.

Ukraine has lost control of Crimea in recent days as thousands of troops without insignia swarmed the area, taking control of administration buildings and taking over military bases. The Kremlin denied they were Russian, saying they were local militias.

TBP and Agencies