U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urges all sides in the Ukrainian conflict to prevent breaches of a ceasefire agreed earlier this year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
+++VIDEO AND AUDIO AS INCOMING+++ ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged all sides in the Ukrainian conflict on Tuesday (May 12) to prevent breaches of a ceasefire agreed earlier this year. He was talking at a joint briefing with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia where he has been in lengthy talks with both Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin over a wide range of issues including Syria, Iran and Islamic State. With the United States and Russia on opposite sides of the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, Kerry's trip appeared designed as much to maintain contact as anything else with U.S.-Russian relations at their lowest ebb since the Cold War. Kerry met Lavrov for more than four hours before he sat down with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in what was the highest-level U.S. visit to Russia since the Ukraine crisis began in the autumn of 2013. Ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow accuses Washington of orchestrating last year's overthrow of a Ukrainian president who was supported by Russia. The United States has accused Russia of failing to withdraw heavy equipment such as air defense systems, tanks and artillery from eastern Ukraine in violation of a peace plan agreed in February and known as Minsk 2. Russia denies Western and Ukrainian accusations that it is arming the pro-Russian separatists battling the government and supporting them with its own military forces. More than 6,100 people have been killed since April 2014 in the Ukraine crisis. The United States and European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia after it took over Crimea and have intensified them since. The U.S. official hinted they could be eased if Russia complied with the Minsk plan, which calls for withdrawing heavy weaponry and respecting Ukraine's border.