Kerry, Lavrov meet in Geneva over Ukraine crisis


US Secretary of State, John Kerry has met with his Russian counterpart for the first time, since he accused Russia of lying about its role in Ukraine’s war. The talks with Sergei Lavrov in Geneva coincided with a UN report on human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in east Ukraine.
The UN says the conflict has claimed at least 6,000 lives, with hundreds killed in the past few weeks alone. A fragile ceasefire is holding despite some fighting in recent days. At his meeting in Geneva, Mr Kerry is also expected to raise the brutal murder of a Russian opposition politician in Moscow on Friday.
Boris Nemtsov, who was shot on a bridge near the Kremlin, had been planning an anti-war rally and was said to be working on a report to expose the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. Flowers and condolence messages were placed with a portrait of Boris Nemtsov at the site where he was gunned down near the Kremlin 2 March, 2015. Tens of thousands of people marched through central Moscow in memory of Boris Nemtsov on Sunday. His allies accused the Kremlin of involvement but Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the murder as “vile” and vowed to find the killers.
Mr Kerry will press for an investigation that he said should examine not only who pulled the trigger, but who ordered, funded and co-ordinated Mr Nemtsov’s murder. Fighting began in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions last April, a month after Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula. The UN estimates that at least 1.25 million have fled their homes, and believes that the real number of fatalities could be considerably higher than the 6,000 it has given. In its latest report, released on Monday, it refers to credible accounts of heavy weapons and foreign fighters continuing to flow into eastern Ukraine from Russia.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the report painted a picture of “merciless devastation of civilian lives and infrastructure”. An elderly woman walks across a destroyed bridge near the airport in Donetsk, Ukraine – 1 March 2015 The ceasefire has been holding in much of eastern Ukraine but there have been sporadic clashes The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation but Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are “volunteers”.

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