MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said after a meeting with the Russian president on Thursday that he shares Russia’s concern about Russian speakers in Ukraine.
Ban met with Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, which he says poses “great risks to the countries themselves and beyond.”
He said he shared "the legitimate concerns that Russia and President Putin has, particularly in terms of human rights protection and of those Russian-speaking people and Russian minorities."
The UN chief described his meeting with Putin to discuss the crisis in Ukraine as "very productive and constructive."
Moscow and Kiev are on the brink of conflict following last month’s overthrow of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and subsequent dispute over the fate of Crimea, previously an autonomous republic within Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority.
Crimea signed a reunification treaty with Moscow on Tuesday following a referendum Sunday in which some 96.7 percent of voters backed joining Russia after 60 years as part of Ukraine.
"I have emphasized that all parties [should] refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate the already very tense and very volatile situation," Ban said.
"It is clear that we are at a crossroads ... We must employ every possible diplomatic tool at our disposal to solve the crisis, which has grave political and economic ramifications," he continued. “An honest and constructive dialogue between Kiev and Moscow is essential."
"It is at moments like this in history that a small incident can quickly lead to a situation spiraling out of anyone's control,” the UN chief said.