Kerry meets Russian foreign minister

Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in person on Monday for the first time since before the annexation of Crimea.

On the margins of the nuclear summit at The Hague, Kerry expressed “strong concern” about the Russian troop buildup along its border with Ukraine, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. 

Russian troops also took over a Ukrainian military base on Saturday. 

The nations' two top diplomats met for a little more than an hour, and met one-on-one for the last 10 minutes, Harf said.

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Kerry also pointed to sanctions the United States announced last week, and the flexible executive order President Obama signed that could expand them. 

“He urged Foreign Minister Lavrov to deescalate the situation and pursue a dialogue with the Ukrainian government,” Harf said.

Afterward, Lavrov met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. 

Asked whether their meeting is a positive sign, Harf said Russia needs to do more.

“Talking is good, it’s an important step, but we need to see Russian actions," she said. 

Kerry warned Lavrov that the U.S. is prepared to take “broader actions” if Russia escalates the situation in Ukraine.

Their meeting came just as Obama and other leaders of the G-7 alliance held an emergency meeting in the Netherlands about the situation in Ukraine and Russia. 

Kerry and Lavrov last met in person in London on March 14, just two days before Crimeans voted in their referendum to secede and join Russia.