Kerry: Russia Must Press Ukraine Separatists to Disarm Within Hours

U.S. secretary of state suggests Russia can avoid EU sanctions if it cooperates with U.S., Europe and Ukraine.

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Pro-Russian separatists inspect vehicles at a road checkpoint outside the town of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, June 24, 2014. Reuters

REUTERS - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after meeting with France's foreign minister, said on Thursday Russia should call on separatists in Ukraine to disarm within "the next hours."

"We are in full agreement that it is critical for Russia to show in the next hours, literally, that they're moving to help disarm the separatists, to encourage them to disarm, to call on them to lay down their weapons and to begin to become part of a legitimate process," Kerry told reporters in Paris.

He added that EU leaders would discuss possible sanctions on Russia at their summit in Belgium starting Thursday.

"We all agree that they need to be ready. But our preference is not to have to be (in) a sanctions mode. We would like to see a cooperative effort between the United States, Europe and Russia and the Ukrainians," he said.