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Diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU issued a joint statement today on the crisis in Ukraine calling for all illegal armed groups to be disarmed, all illegally seized buildings to be returned to their owners, and for all occupied public spaces to be vacated. “Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes,” the statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after an emergency meeting in Geneva that what’s important now is that these words are translated into action. He said it’s hoped that Russia will withdraw more troops from the area near the Ukrainian border.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the need for Russian speakers in Ukraine to be protected from discrimination.

The statement also said that officials agreed the “OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.”

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THIS JUST IN . . .


CNN

The United States and six other Western nations voted to effectively kick Russia out of the G8 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a White House statement said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov downplayed the significance of the move.

“G8 is an informal organization that does not give out any membership cards and, by its definition, cannot remove anyone,” he said at a news conference. “All the economic and financial questions are decided in G20.”

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