KINSHASA, Congo — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday pressed Russia to stop backing separatists in eastern Ukraine and help oust them from government buildings seized in about a dozen cities and towns.
Kerry spoke with Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov while flying from Ethiopia to Congo, and after pro-Russian insurgents had released the seven European military observers and five Ukrainian assistants held for more than a week in Slovyansk, the center of the unrest.
"It's a step. But there are many other steps that have to be taken in order to be able to deescalate the situation," Kerry told reporters after landing in Kinshasa.
Kerry said he and Lavrov discussed additional steps that need to be taken, and made clear that it was critical for Russia "to withdraw support from separatists and to assist in removing people from the buildings."
The secretary of state said he raised the "reality" of new potential penalties by the West against specific sectors of the Russian economy.