• Switzerland's news in English

Putin hits back as Kerry raises Russian 'isolation'

AFP · 4 Dec 2014, 21:50

Published: 04 Dec 2014 21:50 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"It is not our design or desire that we see a Russia isolated through its own actions," Kerry said at the start of the two-day meeting. 

"Moscow could rebuild trust and relationships if it simply helps to calm turbulent waters," he said. 

"The United States and countries that support Ukraine's sovereignty and rights do not seek confrontation".

Diplomats at the meeting called for a renewed effort to implement a truce brokered by Russia on September 5 that has been frequently broken, sending the death toll from the conflict soaring to 4,300.

Swiss President and acting OSCE chair Didier Burkhalter said the conflict in Ukraine had fuelled a broader crisis of European security, with a surge in military activity by Russia -- whose aircraft have made several forays into NATO airspace -- sparking increasing unease.

"Security has deteriorated markedly in Europe. Trust between Russia and the West has eroded. We have seen a dangerous increase in military activity and belligerent rhetoric lately," he said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the conflict had raised the spectre of "a new division of Europe."
"We have not advanced as much as we would like in defusing this crisis," he told journalists.

"The danger of a new escalation cannot be ruled out."
With East-West relations at frosty levels not seen since the Cold War, Russia's decision this week to cancel a project to build a massive gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine and deliver energy directly to southeastern Europe further complicated ties.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Russia was now a "strategic problem" for the EU, which would not accept "blackmailing on energy matters."

An elusive ceasefire

Meanwhile, a lasting ceasefire remained elusive in eastern Ukraine.

Since the Minsk deal, fighting has continued around the flashpoint Donetsk airport and a fresh truce agreed there appeared to have crumbled Wednesday just hours after it was signed.
A separate truce planned for the Lugansk area Friday was also shrouded in uncertainty as rebel leaders have complained about the terms.
Heavy rocket fire rang out throughout the night in Donetsk, an AFP reporter said, and the Ukrainian army on Thursday reported more than 70 rebel attacks on its positions in the past 24 hours.
"It is not a Ukrainian crisis, it is not an OSCE crisis, it is about Russian aggression," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Basel.
Kerry, who met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the OSCE conference, accused Moscow of torpedoing the deal it had brokered by continuing to support rebels in eastern Ukraine.
"Russia continues to supply new weapons and increase support for armed separatists" and thus is failing "to live up to an agreement that it actually negotiated and signed".
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who also held talks with Lavrov, urged Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

Story continues below…

Putin says sanctions 'a pretext' 

US President Barack Obama said Moscow was unlikely to shift its stance until the reality of sanctions, which were "having a big bite" on its economy, sunk in.
In Moscow, Putin lashed out at the West for using the Ukraine conflict as a pretext to restrain a muscular Russia with sanctions.
"Every time someone believes Russia has become too strong, independent, these instruments get applied immediately," he said, referring to the sanctions that have pushed the country towards recession coupled with falling oil prices.
However, Putin said in his state of the nation address he would not sever ties with the West despite the confrontations with Brussels and Washington.
In Basel he received backing from ally Belarus, whose Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei slammed the West for "double standards" in the Ukraine crisis.
"We have come close to a dangerous line," he warned.
During the year that Switzerland has headed the OSCE, the organization has seen its standing swell in step with the deepening Ukraine crisis.
In its biggest operation ever, it currently has some 500 people on the ground monitoring the tattered September truce.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP file picture

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf, marking one of the first such rulings in Switzerland, media reported Sunday.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available