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U.S. demands halt to Russian 'provocation' in Ukraine

Pro-Russian activists block a collumn of Ukrainian men riding on Armoured Personnel Carriers in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on April 16, 2014The United States warned Russia Wednesday to stop its “provocation” in eastern Ukraine, reiterating that new sanctions could be slapped on the Kremlin. With US Secretary of State John Kerry en route to Europe for international talks on the most serious East-West crisis in years, and a Ukrainian effort to reassert control over its eastern regions floundering, the State Department demanded de-escalation and demobilization on the part of Russian forces. “We definitely want to see an immediate halt to that provocation,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. Kerry and the European Union were to hold their first four-way talks with Ukraine and Russia Thursday in a bid to defuse the worsening crisis, but Washington was more interested in seeing direct steps on the ground by Russia, and warned it could penalize Moscow further if it did not stand down in Ukraine.

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