The US and Russia are to hold talks on easing tensions over Ukraine as it steps up efforts to influence Moscow to pull its forces back to base in Crimea and prevent the risk of a war.
John Kerry, US secretary of state, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, will meet for the first time since the rapid increase of crisis, after a conference in Paris attended by all five permanent members of the UN security council.
Nato and Russia will hold talks in Brussels amid concerns that a standoff between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea could still spark violence, or that Moscow could also intervene in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said European Union leaders meeting in Brussels could decide on sanctions against Russia if there is no reduction in intensity of crisis.
Ukrainian police seized the city’s government headquarters from pro-Russian demonstrators who had occupied it and the Ukranian flag was raised above the building, replacing the Russian flag that had flown there since Saturday. A police stated that the evacuation began after reports the building had been trapped with explosives.
Obama spoke to the German chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed a potential resolution to the crisis and will stay away from a G8 summit scheduled for Sochi, Russia, in June unless there is a Russian reversal in the Ukraine crisis, a senior administration official stated.