March 14 - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov end meeting on Crimean conflict with little agreement. Nathan Frandino reports.
The Ukrainian army is prepping for the worst case scenario. With Crimea's referendum on whether to join Russia set to proceed, Ukraine is holding exercises in different regions of the country. As soldiers practice firing an array of weaponry, one official hopes an all-out war is avoided. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UKRAINIAN LIEUTENANT COLONEL, YAROSLAV CHEPURNOY, SAYING: "We hope that we will not have to use all our knowledge and skills in real combat." For the Russians, Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov says combat is not an option. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: "The Russian Federation does not and cannot have any plans to invade the southeastern regions of Ukraine. Our position is that the rights of the Russians, the rights of the Hungarians, the rights of the Bulgarians as well as the rights of the Ukrainians themselves should be insured and protected." Lavrov says Russia will respect any decision by the Crimean people. He's in London for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry says the referendum remains a deeply divisive issue. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "We believe it is illegitimate, and as the president put it: 'illegal under the Ukrainian constitution'. Neither we, nor the international community, will recognise the results of this referendum." Russian troops seized Crimea two weeks ago. Now a new pro-Moscow regional government hopes to join Russia in the referendum, described in the west as illegal.