Ukraine crisis: US and Russia set for key London talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov are preparing for key talks on Ukraine in London, as a disputed referendum in Crimea looms this Sunday.

It is expected that Mr Kerry will warn Mr Lavrov that the referendum and Russia’s military intervention in Crimea could trigger concerted US and EU sanctions.

He has warned of “serious steps” if Russia annexes the region.

On Thursday, Russia insisted at the UN it did “not want war” with Ukraine.

Reports state that during an emergency meeting of the Security Council, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin defended the right of Crimea, which is predominately ethnic Russian, to decide whether or not to join the Russian Federation.

Russia’s military intervention followed the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych on 22 February.