But Lavrov issued his own warning that sanctions could further entrench Russia.
“Our partners also realize that sanctions are counterproductive,” he said.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, in Kiev on Friday, pledged to help send an array of armaments, ranging from combat infantry rifles to anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine as quickly as possible. Ukraine’s military is largely poorly trained, but McCain pointed to the looming Russian troops as enough reason to help the country defend itself.
“Would you like them to throw rocks?” said McCain, a hawkish Republican from Arizona. “If that’s what they’re literally begging for, why should we judge whether we give it to them or not?”
Ukraine’s best hope now is for Crimea to declare autonomy but remain a part of the country.
Officials said Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is willing to give Crimea nearly unparalleled latitude in governing itself, while working to resolve concerns with Kiev over taxes and language differences. Officials in Kiev and the West also may have to settle for Crimea becoming a quasi-independent state like Trans-Dniester, a breakaway state from Moldova with strong Russian loyalties.
In Kiev, authorities made a last attempt to prevent Crimea from seceding. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov annulled a recent Crimean parliamentary vote to immediately become an independent state were the region to break off from Ukraine.
Heightening the tensions, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement claiming it reserves the right to intervene in eastern Ukraine in defense of ethnic Russians who it claims are under threat.
The ministry said clashes overnight Thursday in the eastern city of Donetsk showed that Ukrainian authorities had lost control of the country and couldn’t provide basic security. The clashes broke out, however, when a hostile pro-Russian crowd confronted pro-government supporters. At least one person died and 29 were injured.