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Attempts to pressure Russia are futile – Lavrov to Kerry

Attempts to pressure Russia are futile – Lavrov to Kerry
It is useless for Washington to try to pressure Moscow on the world arena; instead, it should take into account the other side’s interests, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry as the two officials met in Rome.

“When discussing bilateral relations Lavrov stressed that their development is possible only on the basis of equality and mutual interests, while any attempts to pressure Russia have no prospect,” the Russian Foreign Ministry posted in a statement on Facebook.

The top diplomats discussed the situation in southeastern Ukraine, and Lavrov stressed the importance of adhering to the Minsk agreements.

"In the context of the situation in southeastern Ukraine, the consistent implementation of the Minsk agreements is paramount, as well as the convening of a contact group for this purpose as early as possible,” Lavrov said.

Other topics discussed included the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation in Syria, and Iran's nuclear program.

The leaders talked about “international issues, including the need to give a new push to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the resolution of the Syrian conflict, and the development of a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” the statement said.

Kerry and Lavrov met on Sunday at the residence of the American ambassador in Rome, marking their 17th meeting this year.

The meeting took place after US lawmakers passed a new bill – referred to as the 'Ukraine Freedom Support Act' – which asks for additional sanctions against Russia, as well as support for Ukraine in the form of up to $350 million worth of US military hardware.

READ MORE: ‘If US sends weapons to Ukraine, Russia should send troops’ - lawmaker

Commanders from both sides of the Ukraine conflict met and shook hands at the wrecked Donetsk airport over the weekend, agreeing that they do not want the “fraternal” conflict to continue, according to a report.

READ MORE: Frontline handshake: Kiev army, militia meet amid Donetsk airport ruins

Donetsk airport became the scene of heavy battles between local militia forces and the Ukrainian military, causing dozens of fatalities.

Ukraine has been engulfed in conflict since April, when Kiev's military began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The two sides agreed to a brief ceasefire during talks in Minsk, Belarus in September. Since then, both parties have blamed each other for violating the deal.

On September 5, the OSCE revealed a 12-point roadmap behind the truce signed in Minsk. The document – titled ‘Protocol on the results of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group' – outlines what needs to be done for the ceasefire to remain in place, and states that Ukraine must adopt a new law allowing for special status of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

READ MORE: Minsk protocol: Ukraine to be decentralized, special status for Lugansk, Donetsk

Two weeks later, Kiev and self-defense forces signed a memorandum aimed at effectively halting all fighting in eastern Ukraine. The document created a buffer zone, demanded a pullback of troops and mercenaries, and banned military aviation flybys over the area.

READ MORE: War over? Both sides in Ukraine conflict sign treaty banning military action