LONDON - Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the possibility of bruising Western sanctions on Moscow over the impasse in Ukraine’s Crimea region ahead of a key meeting with the Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.
"Hopefully, we all hope that we don't get pushed into a place where we have to do all those things. But we'll see what happens," Kerry said during a visit with Britain’s David Cameron in London after the prime minister underlined the threat.
He was responding to Cameron who said: "We want to see Ukrainians and the Russians talking to each other. And if they don't then there are going to have to be consequences."
Western officials hold out little hope that they will halt a vote in Crimea on Sunday on whether to separate from Ukraine and join Russia. The West is readying to impose sanctions on Moscow for what U.S. officials say is its insistence on undermining the new upstart government in Kiev.
It would be “formidably difficult” for Russia and the United States to make progress at talks on Friday, Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague said.
The officials spoke ahead of the Lavrov-Kerry meeting in London.
- NBC News' Courtney Kube and F. Brinley Bruton. Reuters contributed to this report.
First published March 14 2014, 5:15 AM