U.N.'s Ban urges restraint in "very volatile" Ukraine crisis

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 March 2014 17:11 GMT

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MOSCOW, March 20 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said tension between Ukraine and Russia posed "great risks to the countries themselves and beyond" and urged restraint in a crisis that could spin out of control.

"I have emphasised that all parties (should) refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate the already very tense and very volatile situation," Ban said after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.

Emerging after more than an hour from what he called "a very productive and constructive meeting," Ban said: "Russia is critical to the maintenance of international peace and security - nowhere more so than in this region."

Ban, who travels to Kiev on Friday, said: "It is at moments like this in history that a small incident can quickly lead to a situation spiralling out of anyone's control. An honest and constructive dialogue between Kiev and Moscow is essential."

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region has brought about the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

"It is clear that we are at a crossroads ... We must employ every possible diplomatic tool at our disposal to solve the crisis, which has grave political and economic ramifications," Ban told reporters.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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